In a recent Avant Career poll, 25% of people said that the most stressful part of their job is navigating relationships with their co-workers. Having a work bestie or a corporate frenemy can have a huge impact on your happiness—and how you do your job.
In fact, one Gallup poll found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50%, and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
Unfortunately, those types of relationships don’t just happen. They take effort, especially if you find yourself in the kind of corporate culture where there isn’t a lot of bonding. But with the right strategic moves (and a little bit of luck), you could add “work bestie” to the intangible benefits that make your job so good.
Follow these steps to start building meaningful friendships at work. And if you still can’t find your work tribe where you are now, maybe it’s time to start looking for a new job on Avant Career.
Ask for their help
If you’re just testing the friendship waters, the best icebreaker is to ask for a co-worker’s input. “People like feeling that their opinions are valued,” says business etiquette and career coach Karen Litzinger. Asking for feedback—even if you wouldn’t normally—is great a way to bond, and you might actually get valuable insight you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Then, return the favor
“A lot of people won’t ask for help,” says Allison Peschel, director of client service at career development firm JB Training Solutions. Translation: Be proactive and extend a lifeline when you spot a co-worker in need, rather than waiting for the person to come to you. That’s a great way to build a bridge toward friendship and general goodwill.
Pro-tip: Offering to cover for a co-worker while he’s on vacation is another way to build trust; by doing so, your colleague will likely be willing to do the same for you in the future.
Be generous with what you know
Nothing makes co-workers warm up to you more than when you seem like a genuine team player, and one of the best ways to demonstrate that selflessness is to share your knowledge, in addition to your time.
For instance, after attending a conference, share what you learned with your team. “You need to be a resource for your peers,” says Peschel, who recommends carving out time to lead a lunch-and-learn with your team following an industry event.
Find things you can bond over
We know you already have one thing in common: work. To find out if you share any other interests, you may need to step away from the cube. Invite co-workers to lunch or for drinks after work; that’s where you can really show an interest in who they are beyond their job title.
Once you find some common interests, offer to do something together. Have dogs? Suggest a weekend hike you love. Are you both foodies? Check out the hot new restaurant that just opened. Are you spinning fanatics? Try a class together.
Volunteering together at a company-sponsored philanthropy event is another opportunity to get one-on-one time with a co-worker—and one that can seem even less daunting to suggest since it’s work-sanctioned. Check to see if there’s an upcoming work-related event you can do together. It could be your best chance to connect away from the cubicle.
If all else fails…supply sustenance!
If you’re looking for the cheap and dirty (and delicious!) way to be popular at work, it doesn’t get easier than donuts. Or bagels. Or really anything edible.
If your baking skills need work, don’t subject your officemates to your homemade goods; instead, bring coffee and donuts Monday morning, and you’ll win them over, one calorie at a time.