Why Social Anxiety May be Stopping Gen-Z Employees Making Friends
As an employer, it’s vital that you do everything within your power to maximize both employee productivity and job satisfaction. According to new research, encouraging friendships within your workforce could hold the key to unlocking these two factors and creating a positive working environment.
It turns out that
workplace friendships are far more important to staff than simply having a
colleague to eat lunch or gather round the watercooler for a chat with. Many of
us forge lifelong friendships or meet partners through work, and a recent study by Furniture At Work cements this view.
Despite this, Generation Z is struggling to make friends at work, with many citing social anxiety as a roadblock that prevents them from developing stronger relationships with colleagues.
Importance of Workplace Friendships
Furniture At Work
surveyed 2,000 office workers, with two-thirds of them saying that having
friends in the workplace increased their overall happiness. Other positive
well-being factors that friendships contributed to included good mental health
and job satisfaction.
As well as the boost to
their own contentment, even more respondents (71%) said that friendships in the
office contributed to a positive working environment. This is where it gets
interesting; the majority of people also said that having friends at work
boosted their motivation and productivity.
This is absolutely
critical to employers and something they cannot ignore. While workplace
friendships may have historically been perceived as distractions with the
potential to encourage a cliquey culture, they are now contributing to a better
performing, more profitable workforce.
Struggles of Generation Z
With this more modern approach to workplace friendships taking hold, the assumption may be that younger employees are driving this revolution. However, Generation Z is a mixed bag when compared to the rest of the nation.
While the survey results showed that Gen-Z members of staff are more likely to consider their office buddies as close friends and socialize with colleagues at least once a month, they also struggle the most to make friends (with 36% admitting to this, compared to the national average of 26%).
Over a third of Generation Z admitted to not socializing with colleagues due to their social anxiety. This disorder is caused by a need to constantly come across as ‘perfect’ in social situations and a fear of being judged by others. So, what can employers do to help the future of their workforce combat this?
In the modern,
competitive job market, companies that don’t offer benefits beyond just salary
and holiday find themselves inevitably left behind. Providing extra perks that
encourage employees to spend more time together outside of the office is a
great way to help foster workplace friendships and a culture that employees
feel supported by.
Many businesses run
monthly social events that allow colleagues to interact away from the confines
of the office. Employers should try and vary these as much as possible to
appeal to a wide range of their workforce and allow everyone to get involved in
something they’re comfortable with.
Employers can also
provide mental health awareness training to facilitate a workforce more open to
discussing the issue of social anxiety and providing solutions.
The overwhelming benefits of office friendships, both to employee wellbeing and company productivity, illustrate the importance of employers creating a culture that facilitates them. However, with those who make up the future of the workforce suffering more than anyone else with the anxiety that accompanies this culture shift, there is still plenty of work to be done to sustain this increase in employee welfare and output.
About the author: Dan Yeo manages a team of content writers at Search Laboratory in Leeds, England. He holds an ILM Level 5 Diploma in Leadership and Management and regularly writes about workplace and employee motivation.