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Finding the right balance between social relations and profession: do friendships at work really work out?

Kiesel, Ann-Kathrin Gabriele (2011) Finding the right balance between social relations and profession: do friendships at work really work out?

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Abstract:Human beings have a social nature. They always try to be in contact with other people and to make relationships. Friendships develop in all kinds of settings. This happens all the time and in all parts of life, including work. At work, teamwork and workgroups gain more and more importance and are more prevalent in the workplace. This makes the study of friendships at work increasingly relevant. This article examines the attitudes and experiences of employees with regard to workplace friendships. The article is based on a study carried out in an organization in Germany. The goal of the study is to bring the aspects that are relevant for a development of workplace friendships to light and to discover reasons for and against workplace friendships. Furthermore, the study aims to analyse individual experiences. The study reveals how people develop workplace friendships, identifies the criteria that are relevant for the development of friendships and discusses whether friendships at work are relevant at all. Furthermore, rewards and risks of workplace friendships have been examined. Twenty-four employees of the organization participated in face- to- face interviews. In total, 13 female and 11 male respondents working in the organization for two years and longer and more than 20 hours per week took part in the study. The respondents have worked for the organization for an average of 11 years. The interviews were all based on the same interview scheme, but it was space left for individual stories. The results of the study show that workplace friendships are not perceived by the participants as extremely relevant. They see them as a nice benefit, but are not unnecessary. But good co-worker relations happen to be extremely important.The participants did not perceive their own workplace friendships as problematic. They indeed do have conflicts because of workplace friendships but did not feel disturbed by that. Especially those who do not have any friendships themselves had a more distant attitude towards workplace friendships. The data showed that employees find it relevant to have a relaxed atmosphere at work and to be able to have private talks once in a while, but that friendships at work are not necessarily relevant. Overall, several participants even reported that they avoid the development of workplace friendships in order to prevent the development of conflicts at the workplace. The results showed clearly that people like to keep a distance to their co-workers to protect themselves. The data showed that office gossip, the distraction from work and unprofessional decision making were the most relevant risks of workplace friendships. The creation of a good atmosphere at work, the enhancement of happiness and productivity and the possibility to gain more support were the most relevant rewards that arise out of workplace friendships.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:05 communication studies
Programme:Communication Studies MSc (60713)
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