What started as a simple marketing plan in the 1930s by a wish card founder has evolved into a concept that was embraced by the United Nations, who declared July 30th as International Friendship Day.
Once upon a time, it was discouraged to build any close relationships in the workspace – to separate personal from professional activity. Things today are a little different. According to a report by Robert Half, 68% of UK employees have good friends at work. Looking at the regions, 83% of people in Yorkshire have good friends at work while only 64% of those in the East of England agree.
That being said, while there are some friendships that are positive on both your professional and personal life, it’s prudent to also keep an eye out on the friendships that dance in only one of these corners. Dr Aymee Coget, founder of Happiness for HumanKIND says, “Relationships make or break any job. And the number-one reason people stay – or quit – is because of their relationship with their colleagues.”
With this in mind, in recognition of International Friendship Day on July 30th we take a close look at six types of friends you may have in the workplace, and what you should keep in mind when forging these relationships in the coming months.
The Caring Critic
Having an in-office ally who can offer insightful feedback and constructive criticism on your ideas or projects can be invaluable. Getting an honest opinion from someone who has your best interests at heart — and who understands the unique nuances and inner workings of your organisation — can help you fine-tune your approach so you can make the biggest impact and best impression possible.
The Party Pooper
Just as the upbeat attitude of a perennial optimist is contagious, frequently fraternising with naysayers can influence your feelings about your job, too. Even if they are perfectly pleasant to you, be careful about aligning yourself with incorrigible whiners who constantly complain or divulge in office gossip. They may not be entirely trustworthy, and being too chummy with negative nellies can lead to guilt by association.
The Handy Helper
Feeling swamped? It’s beneficial to have a trusted and reliable friend in the office to lean on for both support and assistance when you feel overburdened. While lone-wolf workers might be left to fend for themselves during a deadline emergency, accounting professionals who’ve made the effort to build some strong alliances will have no shortage of helping hands to call upon.
The Talkative Time Sucker
Remember that you’re at work to, well, work. In general, be mindful of how much time you spend socialising. If you’re not careful, you can unwittingly allow chatty work mates to become distractions. Keep the water-cooler banter to a minimum and don’t let lunch hour turn into an all-afternoon banter. You can always catch up over coffee before work or grab a bite to eat together at the end of the day.
The Cool-Headed Veteran
Forging a friendship with a successful and upbeat veteran is another smart move. In times of crisis or uncertainty, a time-tested colleague “who’s been down this road before” can impart wisdom and a sense of perspective. These types of more tenured workers can help you hone new abilities and maintain a healthy, positive attitude.
The Favour Thief
“The only way to have a friend is to be one,” said Ralph Waldo Emerson. It’s an important adage to consider in the workplace. If you’re constantly pitching in for a so-called “friend” who never returns the favour, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship. Likewise, if a colleague assisted you in your hour of need, it’s imperative that you reciprocate — even if their request for backup comes at an inopportune time.
What can we learn from International Friendship Day?
“Good relationships are the glue of an organisation,” says Nic Marks, CEO & Founder of Happiness Works.
The workplace is an environment that experiences it fair share of conflicts, stress and challenges, and these call upon great teamwork and trust amongst colleagues to help each other out. On International Friendship Day, take the time to celebrate those who you have a strong working relationship with, but also keep in mind how your friendships today can (and should) function in a professional setting.
While it remains to be seen, having friends at work can make all the difference in how you approach your job. Maintaining a close-knit bond with coworkers can more often than not help you stay engaged, productive and satisfied with your job.
In fact, Robert Half’s The Secrets of the Happiest Companies and Employees reports that workers who have good relationships with their team are 2.7 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who do not get along with their colleagues.
As long as you proceed with caution and always remember to be professional, work friends are people with whom you can share valuable and meaningful experiences for years to come, especially on International Friendship Day.