How much time do you spend at work? Or thinking about work? Or annoying your spouse as you rehash everything that happened at work? A lot, right? Why are you invested in your work? The project? The recognition? For me, it’s always been about the people I’m working with. However, years as an HR person taught me to be careful of making friends at work. I never wanted to have to sit across the table and lay-off a good friend.
There’s value to work friendships that goes beyond having a lunch buddy. As reported in the New York Times last year, researchers have found that having close friends at work leads to decreases in job-related stress. One of the researchers commented that because your co-workers are in the same environment, they “get where you are coming from”. Certainly my co-workers are much more interested in talking about the latest work challenges than my family, who roll their eyes every time I try to tell a work story. But I’ve also realized in the last month how much I’ve come to rely on my friendships at work.
It’s easy to do the surface friendship things: ask about the family, share funny vacation stories, etc. But in times of crisis – family illnesses or loss – you see those friendships take another step. Last month one of my co-workers lost her husband, and her work friends banded together to support her, and assist in any way possible. This wasn’t just signing names on a card or covering meetings. This was a group of friends helping each other through a life event. Last week, when my husband was hospitalized, my work friends jumped in to offer help and to make sure I was supported – far and above the normal call of work colleagues. It’s these kinds of relationships, the give and take, the sharing and the support, that make you value your job a little more. It’s not just about the work, or the profits, or the customer success. It’s about the people.
Thank you to my work friends (and customer friends!) for your support and friendship. You’ve helped me more than you know, and I’m very thankful.