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Why work friendships matter more than you think

New research shows that 40% of the British workforce lack workplace friendships

Decision makers and HR teams are being encouraged to improve colleague connections as the country moves into a hybrid working model, as new research from team-building company Wildgoose has revealed that 40% of the British workforce don’t have anyone at work they can consider a friend. These relationships forged at work are crucial, not only for employee wellbeing, but for profitability, as new research from Rethinkly – a metaverse platform which enables businesses to resolve communication challenges in the workplace – has shown that 22% of employees have said that the inability to connect within the workplace has had the largest effect on productivity.

In a country experiencing a historic productivity crisis, workplace friendships amongst peers can bridge the gap that exists between employees and their senior managers – evidenced by research from Rethinkly which reveals that over one-in-ten British employees cite their most toxic relationship as being the one with their line manager. Imbued in a working environment experiencing a large shift in terms of employee priorities, with proprietary research showing that 26% of workers consider company culture more important than salary when looking for a job, the friendships nurtured in the workplace are often the key factor in curating a healthy and supportive workplace culture. 

Seeing as how the average Brit will spend 1,795 hours a year at work, many times employees see their colleagues more than their families or partners – with research from The Workplace Institute at UKG revealing that 69% of employees consider the hold the relationship with their managers has on par with that of their partners. To this end, Rethinkly’s software – which enables employees and their managers or peers to enter a virtual reality world and visualise difficult conversations or project through the use of neutral avatars – can help foster genuine connection and friendship amongst employees, leading to a more harmonious working environment. 

Co-founder of Rethinkly Andrew Jackson, discusses the importance of communication in the workplace and how companies can prioritise wellbeing:

“Businesses are increasingly not relying on old HR processes or approaches to deal with new ways of working. That means finding solutions that can scale across your business and being flexible to empower team members.

“Whether work is a grind or a dream job, we spend an average of 13-14 years of our lives doing it. Work has a huge impact on our wellbeing, underpinning the culture, relationships, and how work gets done. Ambitious organisations understand their role in actively addressing employee wellbeing and the opportunity for their businesses. There is a direct payback both financially as data shows spending £1 will get them £5 back, and in growth by unlocking innovation and creativity.

Consider as well how much organisations spend on health insurance and sick leave payments, versus how much they spend helping employees to communicate better and build better relationships. Turning the equation around will help to improve the bottom line. With better communication and more reflection business can expect to see a direct positive impact.”

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