April 26, 2023
Time recently published an article featuring Constance Hadley, Lecturer of Management and Organizations, discussing the health benefits of social support in the workplace.
Only about 20% of U.S. adults say they have a best friend at work. It’s undeniable that social support at work is crucial to health and well-being. Your well-being can be boosted by interactions with coworkers who have become close friends, but it doesn’t have to come from them; supervisory relationships and friendly acquaintanceships can also help.
Research on the topic is clear: having friends in the workplace can not only boost job satisfaction and performance, but also improve wellness. It’s linked to a lower risk of burnout, better mental health, fewer traumatic experiences, and maybe even a longer lifespan. Hadley states, “People will say, ‘Oh, I don’t need social relationships at work, that’s not important to me, that doesn’t matter,’ I would argue they should rethink that.”
Considering how much time people spend at their jobs – the average employed American works for almost eight hours each day they’re on the clock – workplace loneliness shouldn’t be ignored. However, becoming best friends with co-workers may seem daunting to some, and there are still benefits from smaller doses of professional social support. Hadley’s research suggests knowing a few people fairly well has a stronger effect than having superficial relationships with lots of people… so start small.