Health

Why you should make more friends at work

Every once in while I get thinking about friendships. And I often wonder...are they situational? Are certain friends destined to be yours in a certain time and place — say, university or preschool — and then when you’ve both moved on from your commonality, your friendship moves along as well?

two women at work friends

Masterfile

Every once in while I get thinking about friendships. And I often wonder…are they situational? Are certain friends destined to be yours in a certain time and place — say, university or preschool — and then when you’ve both moved on from your commonality, your friendship moves along as well?

I wonder this every once in awhile about friends I’ve made at work along the way. An upcoming 40th birthday party for a long-time friend got me thinking about it again last week thanks. We met years ago in a workplace where we were both extremely unhappy in our jobs — our misery was definitely glue for our friendship but clearly we moved on and are still friends some 15 years later.

She also sprung to mind when I came across news about Randstad Canada’s survey, which noted that making friends at work was key to workplace happiness. As their findings note, 66 percent of Canadian employees say they have close friendships with colleagues. Fifty four percent also report that “having pleasant colleagues is more important to them than having a good salary, while 53 percent say they spend time with colleagues outside working hours.”

The posting also quotes Stacy Parker, Randstad Canada’s executive vice-president of marketing saying: “Canadians associate a good working environment with having good relationships with their colleagues. They see these relationships not as a threat to their productivity, but rather as a key factor that influences their satisfaction at work.”

This isn’t exactly an a-ha moment — of course having friends at work will make your time there more enjoyable. But how deep do these friendships go? Workplace relationships can lead to great friendships so I put the word out to get some feedback on people’s experiences with them. And from what I found, they can run fairly deep.

“Almost all of my most meaningful relationships are as a result of where I worked,” says Suzanne Brooks, a 45-year-old client care and marketer in Toronto notes. “Relationships at work bring a new dynamic to the culture.” In fact, two of her best friends she met through work and they’ve been there for her through a few personal challenges. “I’ve loved and lost, and found love again and the support I found at work from friends got me through some exceptionally traumatic events in my life,” she says. “I look back with great fondness for those that were there for me.”

Some of you, such as Rachel Collins (via Facebook), told us that workplace friendships do change in importance with personal circumstances. “When I was in my 20s, I had a great group of friends at one company where we all got together after work and had great times together. I’m good friends with them today, even though we’ve all moved on with new jobs and new cities,” she writes. “But now that I am in my 30s, married, with a new house, while it’s nice to have people you get along with and like at work, my priority is salary over friends. I have more commitments and so I don’t care if I have lunch alone or don’t have great conversations first thing in the morning.”

Hmm. Maybe it just comes down to whether or not you connect with who you work with, regardless of your personal life circumstances. Either way, friendships equal social connections which many happiness studies conclude, are one of the keys to joy in our lives.

What do you think? How important to your workplace happiness is it to have friends at work?

Want more happiness news? Follow me on Twitter @AstridVanDenB