How do work friends help you?

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Image by Garry Knight via Wikimedia Commons

Terrific news if you have work friends. Studies show that you’re more productive when you have friends at work. One study claims that you have “a reduced risk of death” over a 20 year period!

Collaborating, socializing, venting are a few reasons that working with friends is healthy for you. In “Having Friends at Work Leads to Longer Life,” an article by Jeanette Mulvey, Managing Editor, Business News Daily, (August 6, 2011) discusses a new study: “Having friends at work can not only make the day go by faster. It can also lead to a longer life.”

And “Friendly Co-Workers May Increase Your Lifespan,” Rachael Rettner (New Science, May 11, 2011) also based on a study conducted by Tel Aviv University, Israel : The results show social support from peers at work was associated with a reduced risk of death from any cause over a 20-year period.”

However, one a friend told me that she had a huge opportunity and brought in a lot of her friends who she wanted to “give a chance to.” Some hadn’t worked in years, and she really wanted to help them get back on their feet.

While a noble gesture, the production gurgled down the pipes because her friends’ skills and work habits weren’t up to speed. She expected them to hit the ground running, but they just hit the ground. They zapped her energy and took her away from own duties. Note to self: In future, bring them on one at a time.

Here some suggestions and tips:

5 Ways Work Friends Can Help Each Other:

1. Testing new ideas ahead of time, before a public presentation.
2. Giving each other leads on promotions and jobs and projects.
3. Understand and support a friend when they had a fight with their parents, or partner. Talk it through privately with them as they may not want to share the information with less friendly co-workers.
4. Encourage your friend to stretch their limited view of themselves. It’s amazing how many people have strong skills that they undervalue. They may be a terrific organizer (school, church, networking group), but since they’ve never been paid to do it, they undervalue that skill. Help them shine in the workplace.
5. Have a good laugh at the coffee machine. Find work friends who don’t define you as this experience within the four walls – this can make testy situations more entertaining than serious.

4 Ways to Help with Office Politics:

1. Be open with each other and give honest feedback.
2. Know your loyalties between your work life and friends. If you know your friend is about to be fired, ask yourself – what would you do? Tell them? Do what you’d expect them to do for you!
3. Defend your friend from gossip. I’ve worked in offices where gossip was rampant and it shut down any open and clever collaboration. Do unto others, remember!
4. Support your friend’s career path, whether in front of the boss or helping them on a project. Employ the saying that the sun shines for everyone.

3 Work Friends Pitfalls:

1. When you’re about to bring on a friend, take time beforehand to make sure they’re right for the project. Review their resume, gather their references as you would a regular employee – OK, with a few extra benefits.
2. If you’re working in the same field as a friend, make protocols ahead of time so there’s no bad feelings if one gets a raise or promotion before the other one. Present different scenarios to each other so that you’re not taking by surprise when one of you finds more success.
3. Figure out the friends you enjoy working with and those that are better left as social friends. So often we want to “give a friend a break.” However, if you know that they won’t deliver then don’t set them up for failure. And certainly do not hide behind your boss (my boss doesn’t think you’re right), or project manager.

Help out your friends, be honest… and always remember, a great friend starts with you!

For more friends-on-the-job insights read “Friends at Work – Are They Important?”  and “How Friends Contribute to Your Net Worth.

Image courtesy: By Garry Knight from London, England [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

© Glenda / 2014

Please note: I hide specific and identifiable details in my friend stories as these stories are examples of behavior and not meant to hurt anyone. These stories are based on my opinion and perspective, except when the people written about are in the public domain. Any advice in this blog is from my insights, research and opinion only, and must not be considered as legal or medical advice.

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