“Do you have a best friend at work?” This is one of the questions in the well-known Gallup’s Q12 Index to measure employee engagement. One of the reasons why this question seems to be included in a measure of engagement is that individuals spend so much time at work and being around people who support them and they enjoy being with makes them feel good about going to work. Also, can you imagine if you have no one at work that feels like a best friend? Do you even want to go into work?
One aspect of having friendships at work is sharing stories, especially about the positive things happening in our lives. It’s amazing when you hear work colleagues sharing something good about their families, pets or hobbies. And yet, in some work environments, this doesn’t happen. In those cases, people don’t feel comfortable sharing that their ten-year-old child just won a skating competition or that their partner was honored for a big community award. That’s unfortunate. We should have workplaces where people can share the positive stories about their lives without worrying about jealousy from their work colleagues or worse yet, feeling that their colleagues don’t really care.
It’s not that I am suggesting that people spend most of their day chatting about nonwork things. It doesn’t really take that much time. The point is to make your culture one where people are genuinely happy for each other and want to share in each other’s good news. This is especially important to millennials who seem to have their work and nonwork lives more closely connected (via social media).