Yes, Womilies as in work families. I know, I know. For many people, the idea of working with family members seems like a sure way to break family ties. For others yet, when a company says it’ll treat you like family, it’s a sign you should run for the hills. In fact, I stumbled upon a LinkedIn thread last summer where people were sharing horror stories about working with companies whose calling card is “we treat you like family.”
Besides the fact that not all companies that treat like you “like family” have a negative reputation for so—doing, there are legitimate reasons why you should consider a womily if you don’t already have one. And by womily, I simply mean a person or more at work with whom you connect, you can trust, who has your back and who understands your work context enough that they can relate and offer relevant advice and support. Because let’s be honest, the slow and silent head nods from our partners or non-work friends when we mention goody from sales hogging up there Kinda again becomes a mess unless consoling overtime.
I can also appreciate when people say they’d rather not have friends at work. After all, we call most of us come from a long tradition of being told to keep our personal business, much like our emotions away Of work. Because many of us consider personal friendships and the families as belonging in the private domain, we find no reason to have friends at work. In fact, work friend may sound oxymoronic to many.
If you are in the “no friends at work” camp, below are some reasons worth considering having a womily:
1. We Will Spend Most Of Our Waking Hours In The Workplace
Wherever I shared this fact with audiences whether that’s during a talk or on a podcast, people I left feeling startled. It is not my intention to scare you. But Labor Statistics, sleep studies and other research on how we spend our time all place the amount of time the average person will spend at work between 90,000 and 115,000 hours over a 79-year lifespan. Now, we probably didn’t need statistics to tell us that because we probably would have picked it up by just looking at our day. In a typical 24-hour cycle, if we sleep 8 hours and work 8 hours, that’s 1/3 of our time already spent in the workplace. The other eight hours or 1/3 is what’s left for everything else – grooming, socializing, chores, hobbies, etc. It seems to me if we’re spending most of our waking hours in the workplace, we would want to have a great support system in their workplace. Cue Womilies.
2. Work creates some of life’s most major stressors
According to Thrive Global, starting a new job and work stressors are among the top five most stressful life events. Numerous articles and studies list the loss of a job as among the top 10 most difficult life events – right there with the death of a child or spouse, divorce, getting married and higher than financial problems. It seems not just realistic but even necessary that we have a close-knit group of friends or people they can help us navigate the ups and downs of the workplace given the impact it has on our emotional and mental well-being.
3. Womilies can boost employee well being and engagement, performance, job satisfaction, motivation and employee satisfaction
In its 2018 research inquiring whether respondents had best friends at work, Gallup found that:
“Our research has repeatedly shown a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expand in their job. For example, women who strongly believe they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged 63% compared with the women who say otherwise 29%.”
Some of what is driving this it’s belonging. As Gallup puts it, “when employees possess a deep sense of affiliation with their team members they are driven to take positive action that benefits the business. With regards to women in particular, women who said they had a best friend at work a lower retention risk come on more connected to their coworkers, I’m more likely to take risks deadly to innovation and I less likely to report having a negative experience at work. Yes
4. Stress and Conflict mitigation
According to indeed.com,I already previously mentioned that work stress is among the most challenging for any human being. It turns out that work friendships can help us mitigate both the stress that come from workplace difficulties, and can help improve our ability to resolve conflict.
5. Sometimes, it is just nice to talk to someone who totally gets it
Have you ever found yourself in a challenging work situation that you talked about to your partner or your best friend and while they were incredibly supportive, without the context of your work dynamics, you found their help unsatisfying?
Also, in times of organizational change and transition there’s often a period when employees are not allowed to disclose those changes before they are publicly announced. Having someone in the same boat as you allows you to navigate your initial feelings of stress, confusion, and grief since they have as much information as you.
As you can see, there are many reasons to have womily. However, I would be remiss if I do not share a few reasons why womilies or workplace friendships may prove professionally problematic:
· In a competitive environment, friendships seem incompatible with work ambitions. For example, how do you manage resentment if you and your best friend apply for the same job but only one person got it?
· Most of us find it hard to give feedback in general. It is even harder to give constructive feedback to a friend which has double consequence of not helping them improve on the one hand, and if you worked on the same project and had to pick up the slack, resentment on your end.
· Close friendships at work are sometimes frowned upon by the organization and may have unintended consequences if your friend is viewed unfavorably. These are typically cases of “birds of the same feather flock together” or “show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are” even if neither of these may actually be accurate about a person’s performance or character.
· There is also always a risk that personal and sensitive information shared with a one-time work friend can be disclosed should that friendship collapse.
However, choosing your womily carefully might well allay these concerns as the overall benefits of a solid support system at work outweighs the downsides of going it alone.