BEWARE the talkative time-sucker; embrace the cool-headed veteran, and cultivate the caring critic.
That’s the advice to emerge from a survey on workplace happiness which has identified six workplace friends who can make or break your satisfaction at work.
Australian workers who have good working relationships with their team members are 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job, according to the report commissioned by global recruiter Robert Half.
The annual study, based on the results of an online survey of more than Australian 2000 workers, found that 83 per cent of Australian workers get along with the people in their immediate team.
And almost two-thirds of people (62 per cent) have good mates at work.
The figures reveal that getting on with colleagues, and forging true friendships has big impacts on staff morale and company success, because it means improved communication, according to Robert Half Australia Director Nicole Gorton.
“Maintaining a close-knit bond with co-workers improves employee communication, collaboration and staff cohesion which in turn can lead to greater innovation,” she said.
“Great teamwork and trust among colleagues can also help workers better manage the challenges, stress and potential conflicts within the workplace.”
The survey identified six kinds of workplace friends — and foes — to look out for.
This is the workmate most likely to cross into the outside work friend zone: They’ll give you an honest opinion, and have your best interests at heart. They get not just you, but the inner workings and undercurrents of the place you work, and can give insight into the best ways to approach work challenges, pitches and stumbles.
You know this person — they’re the eternal glass half-empty type. They’ll burst your bubble, and never look for the silver lining. They tread a fine line between realist and cynic, but seem to constantly spill over into the latter. Spending too much time listening to this workmate can influence how you feel about your job, and embroil you in office gossip and may see you earmarked as one of the eternal whingers.
This is the mate who recognises when you’re swamped, and will help you out — whether it’s with moral support, or grabbing the tools and working right there alongside you — when you need it. Cultivate, but don’t take advantage of, this rare gem. If you work like a lone wolf, don’t expect anyone to be there when it’s all to much. Conversely, be the same trusted and reliable colleague/mate and both of you can kick goals.
It’s all fun and games until someone misses a deadline. Too much time with the talkative time-sucker can be fun, but keep your eye on the fact they’re not paying your bills. It’s fine to chat over the water cooler or have a chuckle for five minutes, but keep drawing a line before diversion becomes full-on distraction. And maybe continue the banter outside work hours over a bevvie.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that successful, more senior colleague should be gathering cobwebs in the corner. Being friends with the upbeat voice of experience can put things in perspective. They can help you hone new abilities, and if things get tough or uncertain have probably been down this road — or one very similar — before, and may be able to share their wisdom or what worked, and didn’t.
You meet them everywhere in life, so why would the office be any exception. This is the person happy to take, and take, and take … and then you leave you high and dry when you ask them to return the favour. If you’re constantly riding to the rescue for this so-called ‘friend’ and they’re not returning serve, maybe time to rethink this alliance. Likewise, it speaks volumes when you return a favour. Pay your dues, even if it is a bit inconvenient sometimes.
WHO IS HAPPIEST?
Ms Gorton said happy employees are the backbones of successful companies, because they’re “more productive and engaged” and a lack of good relationships with co-workers and managers is one of the main reasons why employees leave a company.
The survey found East Coast Aussies are the happiest with their co-workers, with Western Australia lagging behind.
More than eight in 10 office workers in Queensland (85 per cent), New South Wales (84 per cent) and Victoria (83 per cent) respectively said they get along with their team.
That figure dropped to 77 per cent for Western Australia workers.
Good friends seemed harder to find in WA too, with 53 per cent of Australian office workers in WA saying they had a good friend at work compared to 65 per cent in NSW, 64 per cent in Qld and 60 per cent in Victoria.
Those aged between 35 and 54 seem to be less content with their co-workers than their millennial and Baby Boomer aged counterparts: 57 per cent workers aged 35-54 said they have good friends at work, compared to 65 per cent of those aged over 55 and two-thirds (66 per cent) of workers aged 18-34.