Having a work wife is the key to stress management in the office

We can boost our immune systems by strengthening our social networks and decreasing stress. Jane McGonigal

We can boost our immune systems by strengthening our social networks and decreasing stress. Jane McGonigal

You spend a lot of time at work, more than anywhere else in fact, and creating a supportive safe environment is proving to be more than just a good to have, it’s a must have. The increased expectations for productivity and the “always on” approach that comes from being tethered to our phones is leading to increasingly stressful work environments. Which in turn leads to high levels of stress.

Chronic stress plays a major role in absenteeism, illness, depression, anxiety and irritability. Without strong personal connections, this chronic stress can run rampant. More and more studies show that your work relationships help to mitigate chronic stress (read more about the effects of chronic stress here) . So your work wife/husband/pal is like the magic wand for good health and a valuable part of your work experience. You can read more about that in this great Forbes article.

More and more companies are looking to cultivate a culture of wellness. This includes fostering social connections and supporting social well-being among employees. This doesn’t have to mean that everyone has to be best friends or get along all the time, it’s more about fostering an environment that supports mutual respect, trust and belonging among peers.

Strong social connections make people happier and physically healthier, which can translate into increased work performance. It’s these social connections and strong relationships that help to build a successful workforce. Having a strong ally can get you through the tough times and can increase your loyalty and your overall engagement with work. Don’t negate the value of quality relationships, they provide support and help build self-worth.

The thing is, not only does that work family keep your 9-5 just a little bit more tenable, every relationship you build leads to a longer life. During a 79 year long study at Harvard (read more about it here) they found that quality connections led to more overall life satisfaction. In fact, the subjects who reported more relationship satisfaction were healthier for longer and continued to thrive into their later years. While those who reported less meaningful connections began to deteriorate much earlier in life and were markedly less happy.

Building a work environment that fosters open dialogue and promotes security will inspire more meaningful connections around the office, and you really can’t afford not to have these important cubicle allies.

People who are more isolated than they want to be from others find that they are less happy, their health declines earlier in midlife, their brain functioning declines sooner and they live shorter lives than people who are not lonely. And the sad fact is that at any given time, more than one in five Americans will report that they’re lonely.
— Robert Waldinger