Comradery and mutual respect between employees have always been a goal for any HR leader but this pandemic has changed the way work relationships used to be. The lockdown has changed us internally and we have missed our friends the most. Before the lockdown, the best way to demonstrate friendship was over a cup of tea/coffee at the workplace. With virtual meetings and social distancing becoming part of the new normal it has become more important than ever to have friends at work.
“No one will ever tell you this but the ability to make friends at work is an important part of any job description. It helps ensure the longevity of an employee in the organisation and contributes to the overall employee experience. In today’s context, having friends at work helps even more. In a crisis like these organisations need to nurture the culture of friendship and family.” shares Kulwinder Singh, Chief communication Officer, Cadila Pharmaceutical Limited.
When the country went under lockdown and fear of pandemic spread, the organisations started working towards the new normal. But as companies have extended extra support to their employees and are taking extra precautions, we must accept that things might never be the same as the way before the pandemic. The way the employees connect with each other and the way the organisations engage an employee would be different.
“From our experience, the employees who are highly engaged empathetic towards each other are the ones who have deeper, more meaningful relationships. These are just not relationships of convenience but those of genuine care. We at Cadila constantly promote this. Care remains a core value for us and we stand committed to it” Adds Kulwinder Singh.
With daily gatherings in a communal space out of question, the HR team at Cadila has been working towards creating more opportunities for employees to work in cross-functional teams. The employees are constantly asked about their wellbeing and the effort is towards encouraging low-proximity, high-reward friendships.
As per a survey conducted in 2018 by Olivet Nazarene University researchers, 82 per cent of respondents reported they had at least one work friend, whereas 30 per cent said that they had a work best friend.
Some say friendships that stick are those which are built over a shared interest. Balaji a 32-year-old professional at Cadila shares how he became best friends with Sunil, “We have been friends for the last three years. We got introduced to each other while representing Cadila Pharmaceuticals in a Cricket League Match for Pharmaceutical Industry professionals. Our bond has grown stronger as we started connecting over similar interests such as sports, cycling, etc.” Balaji and Sunil are almost inseparable now and can often be seen sharing a joke on WhatsApp or video chats all while maintaining social distancing.
Having good friendships at work not only helps boost confidence and reduce stress but it has also shown to increase work satisfaction, employee productivity and loyalty towards the organisation. Whereas remaining lonely at work affects the health and happiness of employees both at the professional and personal front.*
Maulik and Krishna are two colleagues here at Cadila and have been friends for 6 years. They have individually been working for 9 and 6 years respectively and say that their friendship has made their loyalty to Cadila stronger. A friendship of 6 years, they told us, is mostly backed by the challenges they faced in their work and the challenges company was facing in the industry. Those challenges brought them together. During the long hours they worked together, they realised their style and work ethic are not just similar, but also complementing. Their attitude, and methods combined to increase the efficiency of processes.
While a lot of work friends have been struggling to maintain work relationships and balance between the struggles of pandemic and managing work, the bond between Maulik and Krishna got stronger. When asked what the defining moment of their friendship was, they didn’t have to go very far in their timeline.
“The lockdown has been hard enough, but we were able to motivate each other and found something that gave us joy and could pursue it with love and passion. These moments of supporting each other have helped us enjoy our work life, which has, in turn, helped us eliminate a lot of stress from our lives. Being able to share professional updates, and personal givings and misgivings have made it easier to enjoy life a little more,” share Maulik and Krishna.
Upon asking the importance of Friendships at Workplace, Kulwinder immediately shares, “Deprived of shared spaces and rituals, colleagues and organisations now have to be proactive to maintain relationships that once thrived on regularly sharing common spaces. An extra effort needs to be put in by the organisations to ensure that the employees have the right avenues.”
Social distancing has actually been able to bring people together, instead of being extremely competitive in their approach to work people have started collaborating and helping each other to achieve organisational personal and professional goals.
“Having someone by your side, motivating and advising, just makes it easier to wade through these tough times. There is a very simple, no strings attached feeling of joy in such relationships, and it lets you remain yourself, while you still navigate through the uncertainty of pandemic. It’s important to have a friend who can keep our morale high. This helps in boosting the confidence level ultimately resulting in better output at work. But this is not just restricted to work, it spills over to other aspects of work as well, for example, to remain fit and healthy” shares Sunil, a 32 year professional at Cadila Pharma.
Happy friendship’s day to all the work friends!