Millennials Are Struggling To Make Work Friends And This Is Why
Work friendships are hard. Trying to cross that line from being in-office, morning coffee goers to Saturday Netflix pals can sometimes feel impossible.
If you're struggling, believe it or not, you're not alone; you're not even in the minority.
New research carried out by graduate jobs board Milkround has found two in three young employees find it hard to make friends at work, yet almost three-quarters of respondents believe it's important to have workplace friendships.
Three quarters of those who struggle believe it has a negative impact on their mental health -- so much so that 45 percent have called in sick as a direct result of the social culture at their organisation.
One in three have quit entirely.
It's well known that people will spend around a quarter of their adult lives at work and experts say the friendships we make in the office are vital to our mental health and overall wellbeing.
So, What's Going On?
There are a couple of things at play.
Workplaces are changing, becoming more flexible with locations and start times, while many young people -- especially in the creative industries -- have opted to work freelance.
“You don’t get as much face-to-face contact which makes it somewhat harder to create a solid friendship with someone you don’t see every single day," Curtin University's Professor of Human Resource Management Julia Richardson told 10 daily.
Technology is another contributing factor.
People will often check their social media feeds first thing -- if and when they finally get a break from their computer.
"Some people are in one place physically, but they're on their phones the whole time speaking to a friend elsewhere," Richardson said.
"If I’m on my phone in the office café and I’m sitting on my phone with my head down, I’m not going to come across as particularly welcoming."
Stress and competitiveness also play a huge role in struggling to build a solid work relationship.
"Some people feel like they need to be seen to be focused on their work or that maybe if they are seen having a chat or laugh or ask someone how to do something then maybe they’ll be perceived as not being competent enough," Louise Remond, a clinical psychologist at The University of Technology Sydney's Kidman Centre said.
For some millennials, they simply don't have the time to worry about socialising during work time.
Paul is an industrial electrician who pulled a 25-hour shift last week just to get his work done.
"The worst part was having my back cramp at the 22-hour mark and knowing that there was nothing I could do to fix it until the job was done," he told 10 daily.
"It took me five days to be able to sit in a chair properly again."
Madeleine works in media and said that tight deadlines keep her from making an effort with those around her.
"You become so fixated on only checking the time in terms of knowing when bulletins go to air that you forget to take five minutes to eat a snack, let alone take a proper break and talk to people socially," she said.
How Important Is It To Form These Relationships?
In terms of our well being and emotional well being, Remond said it's "hugely important".
"As humans, we’re social creatures and we’re designed to connect to people," she said.
"We feel better when we’re connected and become a part of something, so while there’s certainly a place for messages and emails, personal interactions are much stronger," she said.
Improving work relationships also helps people remain grounded and in a job.
"If people have forged strong relationships in the workplace, if they’re not happy with something at work, they may be more inclined to stay because they know leaving is going to break the friendship," Dr Robyn Johns, a human resources expert, told 10 daily.
What Can We Do To Improve Work Life?
All three experts agree the trick is making yourself present -- especially if you're in an inter-generational office.
Getting off the phone, making eye contact, smiling and saying a quick hello in the mornings can make a world of difference -- no matter how much you have on your plate.
"Make it known in how you present yourself to others -- that you’re friendly, open, honest type of person and that you will take time to listen," Richardson said.
But if you're really struggling to find a way in, experts say it's time to ask yourself if you should be working in that particular workplace.
"It’s also important for workplaces to provide those opportunities for people to socialise and build team spirit," Remond said.
Featured image: Getty