Join The UVM Medical Center “Gift of Friends Giveaway” on Facebook and Instagram. The contest runs through December 14, 2015. We will show you how your social wellbeing connects to your overall health and wellbeing. Join the fun!
Research shows that we spend most of our days at work. Employed people between the ages of 25 and 54 spend an average of 8.7 hours per day working. Compare that to an average of 7.7 hours for sleeping! That means a lot of time spent with co-workers and colleagues. Yet, studies show that today we are less likely to make friendships in the workplace. Why is that a problem? Well, our social relationships play a big role in our health and happiness. Consider that the people we see at work every day have the potential to increase our happiness as much as earning $100,000 more per year.
There are also many benefits to our physical and psychological wellbeing. Tom Rath, author of Well Being, writes: “The data suggest that to have a thriving day, we need six hours of social time. When we get at least six hours of daily social time, it increases our wellbeing and minimizes stress and worry…Even three hours of social time reduces the chances of having a bad day to 10 percent.” He found that people who have friends at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, produce higher quality work, and are less likely to get injured on the job.
So, how can we foster friendship at work while also maintaining peak productivity? Here are a few tips for you to try. Leave a comment with your tip in the comments section below.
- Make small talk matter. Graduate on from the friendly hello in the hallway! When you ask someone how their weekend was, follow up to find out what made it “good” or “great.” Get to know each other and find common ground from there. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time, just ask an open-ended follow-up question.
- Get together…often. Informal, but planned get togethers are a nice way to build social connection into the day. Plan a group or team lunch or attend a learning event together, then make time to talk about it. You could even start an office book club. Plan a breakfast or lunch out the last Friday of every month. Getting everyone on the same social calendar builds inclusivity.
- Commute together. Many employers, like the UVM Medical Center, incentivize employees to carpool. Learn who’s in or near your neighborhood, then get to know each other during your morning commute. Fun and green!
- Do something as a team. Friendships are forged from experiences where we have to rely on one another, like a team activity. Try a team ropes course or even improv sessions. Push your own boundaries together. This can foster bonding in a way conversation can’t. Plus, everyone is in on it on equal ground.
- Give back as a team. Building on the former point, try a group community service day or event. Find out how your team wants to use its unique skills and talents to give back. That could be painting a mural at the local children’s center, gardening at a community garden project, or a walk for a local nonprofit. The possibilities are endless. You will feel great and bond in the process. Win-win!
What should you avoid? Oversharing and gossip. Be mindful of a co-worker’s personal space and take it slow. Friendships grow over time.