As we spend more time at the office, we search even harder for better ways to achieve the mythical "work-life balance". From taking lunchtime walks to adjusting frustrating commutes to trading old jobs for ones we actually like, we make changes (both big and small) for the sake of our workplace happiness. But what many of us might not realize is that the biggest mood booster could be sitting in the desk chair right next to us.
According to Virgin Pulse's new Labor of Love Report, which explores what employees love most about their jobs, one of the most important factors in enjoying a 9-to-5 gig is the company we keep as we do so. Nearly 40 percent of survey respondents named their co-workers as the top reason they love working for their company, with 66 percent saying those positive relationships increased their productivity and 55 percent saying they helped mitigate their on-the-job stress levels. And considering the average American worker spends 47.5 hours in the office each week, some employees may spend more time with their co-workers than with family members or friends outside of the office.
"The centrality of social connections to our health and well-being cannot be overstressed," according to Sonja Lyubomirsky, the author of The How of Happiness: A New Approach to Getting the Life You Want. Employers are beginning to recognize the importance of these connections in the office and are taking steps to reinvent the workplace to help nurture the positive aspects of employees' work experiences, reducing burnout and turnover in the process.
Camaraderie at work -- or even just the opportunity for it -- has been found to not just make for a happy employee but a more effective business as a whole. Whether coworkers use their time to air grievances about their bosses, chat about weekend plans or head out to happy hour together, close bonds help dissolve dissatisfaction they may feel otherwise, making them more likely to work productively and remain in their current position for longer. We may log more hours at our desks than we do at home, and leave unused vacation days floating on the calendar, but at least we have our best work buddies who help us do well at our jobs and smile about it simultaneously.