From conversations in the elevator to lunch breaks and regular team meetings, it’s no surprise that co-workers often become more than colleagues — they become friends.
Having a buddy at work does more than give you someone to chat with over lunch. It can actually be good for your employees’ productivity, performance and happiness. Add to the list physical and mental health benefits, according to a new study.
The research, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Review, analyzed 58 past studies across 15 countries to gather evidence that stronger relationships with co-workers can have positive effects on a person’s physical and mental health.
The findings show that “people who identified more strongly with their colleagues at work and with their organizations had greater psychological well-being, and also better physical health,” according to a review of the research on Forbes.com.
Researchers also found that having friends at work can reduce the chance of burnout and increase happiness.
Work friendships create positive benefits
Beyond the physical and mental health benefits of building social connections at work, friendships can also influence worker productivity and retention rates.
This connection has been recognized by Gallup, the business consulting and research company. Gallup has identified 12 influential factors that predict employee engagement and improved performance. Together, these 12 factors make up the Q12 survey used by companies large and small to measure employee engagement.
Through decades of research, Gallup identified that one of the factors important to employee engagement is work friendships. That’s why Gallup includes the question, “Do you have a best friend at work?” in its Q12 survey.
“Studies show that employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, and more loyal to their organizations,” says Ron Friedman, in the book The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace, excerpted on the Science of Us blog. “They get sick less often, suffer fewer accidents, and change jobs less frequently.”
From this long list of benefits, it’s clear that forming friendships with co-workers can have real benefits for you and your employees’ happiness, productivity and overall health.