If you have noticed that it is more difficult to make friends as you get older, you are certainly not in the minority. As people age, they often begin to compartmentalize their lives, breaking things down into containers where they isolate one part of their life from other parts.
In other words, work becomes work, and personal life is largely comprised of interactions with family and, to a lesser extent, time for friends. However, there are signficant benefits to being a coworker and a friend with people on your team or in your workplace.
Making friends at work adds a social component to your day. Friends are also seen as a form of support and encouragement and someone to help you brainstorm and think through ways to solve problems and create possibilities. They are also the people you can call on to go for lunch or a coffee, helping you to get a short mental break from the workday and engage in just having fun, talking about things of interest, and sharing in conversation that allows you simply escape the stress and frustration many people experience during the workday.
A few of the benefits of having friends at work include:
- Higher job satisfaction scores – people with friends in the workplace tend to report higher levels of job satisfaction. This means longer retention in the job, increased positive feelings about their employment, and a better sense of their role within the company as positive and meaningful.
- Better workplace culture – workplaces that are seen as friendly and encourage interaction between and across departments, teams, and even offices or locations tend to have a more positive workplace culture. This translates to fewer issues with workplace bullying and harassment and more of a cohesive, supportive workplace environment for all employees and managers.
- Lower stress levels – having someone to talk to through stressful situations or to discuss challenges helps to reduce overall workplace stress. Simply having someone to talk to who understands the situation and the players involved in the issue is an effective way to reduce stress around an issue. It also helps to brainstorm solutions and to explore options before making a decision as to how to address the issue.
- More creativity and engagement – when people are in a group they know, like, and trust, they are more willing to be creative, make suggestions, and think outside of the box. This not only helps boost problem-solving skills but it encourages everyone to contribute ideas and to step out of their comfort zone.
Having a friend at work is an asset; having multiple friends at work is even better. Getting to know people at work isn’t always easy, but the results of having these interactions are positive for everyone in the organization.