For the average working American, the largest component of the day is made up of time working or doing work related activities. When you add in the 7.7 hours for sleep, this takes up 16.4 hours of their 24-hour day and does not leave much time for social interaction. It seems intuitive that workers would use the extended time spent with coworkers to forge deeper relationships, but a recent article by Fast Company found that Americans are less likely to have friends at work than in past years.
Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report states that work friendships increase employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend in the office are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work. Study after study shows that fostering friendships in the workplace helps with the bottom line as employees gain a common sense of purpose and a mentality of ‘we are all in-it together’.
The Atlantic states that “Those we see daily have the potential to increase our happiness as much as earning $100,000 more per year.” Closeness makes coworkers more collaborative, productive and accountable and discussing success with coworkers increases motivation of the whole team.
Reasons for the decline:
- Shortened Job Tenures
The length that employees are staying at companies is now on average 4.6 years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics which creates a mentality of not needing to become friends with coworkers as either you or them will move on in the next few years.
- The Rise of Social Media
High school and college friends are just a click away. Feeling connected to those that you have already established a close relationship to reduces the need to forge new friendships.
- Increasing blur between work and personal life and the need to keep personal time
With work taking up such a large amount of time, employees strive to disconnect and recharge when they have the chance.
How to Foster Workplace Friendships and Increase Your Employee Satisfaction and Retention Numbers:
- Provide a Break Room
Providing a break room and encouraging employees to take breaks throughout the day not only increase the chances for friendships to form but also increases efficiency and reduces burnout.
- Host Office Parties
Hosting an office party during office hours gives employees a chance to mingle in a relaxed atmosphere.
- Organize an Activity for Employees
Organizing an out-of-office activity, such as a company trip to a sporting event, is a great way to encourage friendships and allow your employees to unwind.
- Stop the “Library-Like” Atmosphere
An article by US News highlights the negative effect that a silent workplace has on employees and efficiency. Silence in an office kills open communication, it kills creativity and it kills the feeling of being part of ‘a team’. An office setting that is too quiet can also make employees self-conscious and less willing to share ideas.
Do you have a workplace that fosters friendships? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Written by Stephanie Thomas
JNR Incorporated is a results-based, globally recognized leader that specializes in creating custom incentive travel, meeting, event, prepaid card and merchandise programs that motivate, engage and inspire the employees, customers and channel members of our clients. We have over 30 years of experience working with Fortune 500 companies in many diverse industries. Our programs are tailored to fit the specific needs of marketing, sales, management and human resource professionals. The unique solutions we apply are measurable and proven to increase performance, loyalty and revenues.