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Why work friendships are critical for long-term happiness

Source | | Dan Schawbel

Real friendship is the key to our long-term career success, health and happiness. Our basic human need for friendship gives us the sense of belonging, purpose, confidence and satisfaction that we crave. Yet we often overlook our fellow co-workers as friends because we try to separate our needs in the office from those at home.

The problem with that mentality is that our core needs remain the same regardless of our environment — after shelter and food, we need deep human relationships. As the average workweek continues to expand, between the demands of the new economy and our always-on culture, we can no longer be fulfilled without befriending our colleagues.

Today’s workforce suffer from a lack of work friends, and it’s become a global epidemic. HR advisory and research firm Future Workplace recently conducted a study with Virgin Pulse of more than 2,000 managers and employees in 10 countries. The study revealed that nearly 1 in 10 people have no friends at work, and more than half have five or fewer. Those with few friends said they felt lonely either very often or always and disengaged in their work. Almost two-thirds said they would be more inclined to stay at their company longer if they had more friends. This is especially true for millennials, who consider their manager as their work parent and their co-workers their work family.

A separate study, by Officevibe, found that 70 percent of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life, and 58 percent of men would refuse a higher-paying job if it meant not getting along with co-workers.

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