Why you need friends at work

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About Why

As human beings, we are social mammals and rely on our connections with others for both practical and emotional support.

We have an inherent need to relate and belong, officially recognised way back in the 1940s by Abraham Maslow in his ground-breaking ‘Hierarchy of Needs’, and more recently, by Martin Seligman’s ‘PERMA’ model, where he highlighted how important ‘positive Relationships’ (the ‘R’ of ‘PERMA’) are for our lives and cited Chris Peterson in placing them at the heart of human flourishing.

But, while this dependence on our relationships with others is well accepted in our home lives, in our working lives, we often seek to distance ourselves from it, to demonstrate that we are independent, capable professionals, who don’t need help from others. To be proper ‘grown-ups’ – we seem to believe – we have to detach ourselves from others.

In fact, having good social relationships in the workplace has been shown to have a positive impact on both our own and our organisation’s success.

Having people at work that we think of as friends as well as colleagues can lead to better health and wellbeing, more positive emotions, greater vitality and energy, increased engagement with tasks, better access to support and information and an enhanced ability to learn.

And, for our organisations, positive work relationships offer increased collaboration and cooperation, higher retention, a greater sense of shared purpose and improved organisational learning and adaptability (the ever-present ‘continuous improvement’!)

So perhaps we should be spending a bit more time on those ‘water-cooler’ chats?

Bailey & French are a team passionate about creating the simple, positive platforms and practical tools that support people to get a better understanding of their strengths and know how to craft work and life around them. We know everyone is busy at work so make sure our interventions are easy to apply, high impact and often self-facilitating. If you are interested in finding out more about how we work with individuals, teams and whole organisations to be more engaged, successful and positive, we’d love to hear from you.

This article on ‘Positive Relationships’ is one of a sequence based on Martin Seligman’s PERMA model of wellbeing. You may also want to read our articles on Positive Emotions and Engagement.


Amy Parker

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