Friendship and Happiness in the Workplace

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By Michelle Collingridge, Content Manager and Account Manager

Last month, we talked about the importance of nature in our lives as a tonic to many of life’s stressors. This month, we’re focusing on relationships – particularly the relationships we build within our company and with our clients, and how they not only help us be more productive, but live longer, healthier lives.

"Happiness is only real when shared"

You may have seen the movie or read the book Into the Wild, where one man’s search for happiness resulted in an epic journey that spanned across the country and into Alaska. The inspiring words of Christopher McCandless (aka Alexander Supertramp) leave something for us all: “happiness is only real when shared.”

Friends at work leads to productivity and satisfaction

Sharing experiences and friendships is essential to a lifetime of happiness. So much so, that a recently published Harvard study conducted over eight decades concluded that relationships were a key indicator of one’s personal well being and overall health, long-term. The results of the study emphasized that work was no exception, revealing that in the course of 80 years, those with the highest level of overall wellness and job satisfaction were those who had friends at their place of work. Friendships – even above salary – were key indicators of long-term health.  

Further studies concluded that, simply put, loneliness leads to depression and low quality of work and lack of productivity. People who do not have friends at work typically suffer from chronic stress, where a constant state of fight or flight creates low work and personal satisfaction. In fact, several studies show that prolonged isolation can lead to emotional exhaustion and even decreases cognitive function overall. 

This means that companies that are unsuccessful in promoting healthy work relationships between coworkers produce lower quality work, lack creativity and struggle with employee dedication and retention.  

On a positive note, a separate study by Gallup confirmed that having a “best friend” at work increased profitability and employee wellness and retention. Even post pandemic, the study concluded that those who enjoy friendships in their place of work were more likely to recommend their company to others, and had increased overall satisfaction, safety, and long-term health. 

Today, whether you work in-office, remotely, or within a hybrid environment, sharing both work and personal experiences with colleagues continues to be vital to your overall well-being. In short, friendships promote creativity, happiness, and longevity.


Employers and employees can work together to encourage wellness and satisfaction

It makes sense that those working together should not only have interests in common, but that similarities should feed creativity, ingenuity, and satisfaction in the workplace. 

While research suggests that mandatory gatherings to force friendships can often be counter productive, strategic gatherings and opportunities to communicate and collaborate can indeed create opportunities for friendships to bloom. 

Here at Spawn Ideas, we have a few ways of encouraging team building and wellness that greatly improve agency satisfaction as a whole. In fact, 100% of Spawners polled in our anonymous survey said that their relationships with clients and coworkers had led to a greater level of satisfaction and productivity at work! (Yep, really. 100%! We really like each other.)

Ranked as one of Outside Magazine’s top places to work 11 years running, we pride ourselves on our collaboration and team building. We have found that creating the right kind of opportunities can rejuvenate and rekindle friendships and productivity. Here are some ways we do that:

  • Collaboration Wednesdays
    These weekday in-person workdays take us out of our Zoom boxes and into conference rooms! They’re a great way to ensure that people have an opportunity to come and enjoy each other’s company during the week. While not mandatory, the majority of teams show up each week to talk, brainstorm and collaborate on ideas and bring back the happenstance engagement in a way that Zoom simply can’t provide.
  • King Salmon Awards
    Every month at Spawn, everyone has an opportunity to nominate a colleague of their choice for special perks and recognition for going above and beyond. Nominations are read out loud in staff meetings and this peer recognition goes a long way in making team members feel valued. Just being nominated can be as significant as winning!Applause and thank you’s in Zoom staff meetings
  • Applause and thank you’s in Zoom staff meetings
    Each staff meeting, we take several minutes to give everyone a chance to acknowledge coworkers who have gone out of their way to help other individuals, teams and client initiatives. 
  • SPI bucks
    Spawn Ideas bucks (SPI bucks) are a peer recognition program we love. They’re a great way of thanking and gifting to a coworker, without having to go into your own pocket! People can send a coworker some SPI bucks which are then tallied and converted into redeemable cash gift cards.
  • Shoutouts in GChat
    With so many communication platforms, you certainly don’t need to be in person to pay someone a compliment! Give a shout out whenever someone does something awesome, and let others join in with gifs, memes, and emojis!
  • New employee intros and anniversaries
    It’s important for people to know they’re not just a number on a spreadsheet, but that they’re genuinely valued for who they are. We celebrate individuals at any opportunity we can, giving shoutouts on social media platforms when new employees and anniversaries come around. We also ask new employees to present a presentation about themselves for all staff members to enjoy. This helps us get a deeper look into our new team members. 
  • Baby and wedding showers
    We celebrate milestones for individuals as a company! Whether it’s a new baby or marriage, we find ways to engage and support each other on a personal level.
  • Happy hour and trivia
    We host regular game parties and happy hours as an agency via Zoom to connect and decompress – even when we aren’t in person.

Your health in the workplace

Since we spend the majority of our time with those we work with, it’s important to hire and encourage team members who can collaborate and engage on both a personal and professional level.

If you’re struggling to connect or make friends at work, talk with your manager about encouraging relationships by sharing this article, and don’t be afraid to reach out to those around you. With one study reporting that nearly 80%  of people across the globe have experienced loneliness at work, chances are, you’re not the only one looking to promote team-building opportunities. 

When it comes to your well-being in the workplace, there’s no question you have everything to gain by connecting with the people around you. Whether it’s online or in person, there’s no wrong way to make a friend!

At Spawn Ideas, we fuel the curious and wild in people by genuinely getting to know them. So, if your brand helps customers embrace adventure, travel and wellbeing, we’ll turn your reason to be into a reason to buy. Our staff works hard to live well in places like Denver, Colorado, and Anchorage, Alaska.

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