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How Office Friendships Could Affect Your Bottom Line

We spend so much time at work, we see co-workers more often than friends and family. How do you gauge workplace relationships to make sure everyone gets along?
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Coworkers. Friends. The line can get blurry at times. How are workplace relationships defined?

According to a June 2014 survey by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average employed person spends 8.7 hours at work every day. When it's considered that the same study found the average employed person spent 7.7 hours sleeping, the math is simple: We see our coworkers just as much as we see our families, sometimes more.

Related: The Hidden Benefits of Happy Co-Workers (Infographic)

With all this time spent together, it’s inevitable that relationships are going to form.

The impact coworkers can have on an individual’s experience at work is immense. Not only can these relationships be the reason for employees sticking around, but also they can impact the bottom line of a company. A July 2014 study by LinkedIn found that nearly half of all professionals believe friendships with colleagues make them happier at work.

The report also found that millennials reported workplace friendships made them feel motivated and productive. Clearly, the relationships formed at work are important -- not only do they affect office productivity, but they can also affect employee turnover.

How do we measure these influential coworker relationships to determine if we have the right people working together? Consider these six factors:

1. Trust in peers.

Do employees trust each other to get the job done? Everyone should be pulling their own weight, and lack of trust can be a sign of weak or negative relationships. Trust can extend to maintaining professionalism with company information and assets, as well.

2. Sharing meaningful milestones.

Did someone recently get married? Have a baby? Celebrate a big birthday? Whether these things are known, discussed and celebrated at work can help determine the type of relationship employees have and how strong it is.

Related: How Important Your Workplace Friendships Are Depends on Your Age

3. Respect from co-workers.

Levels of mutual respect are crucial to all workplace relationships. The organization should be a safe and productive environment where employees feel respected and comfortable.

4. Work-life balance.

Do employees associate outside of the office? Finding out how much time they spend together both inside and outside of work can be a helpful factor in determining relationships.

5. Peer mentorship.

Senior-level executives are great resources, but employees should learn from each other as well. If your employees feel comfortable going to each other with questions and learning from each other, that’s a sign of a positive workplace relationship.

6. Conflict management.

The office should not seem like a high school cafeteria, full of cliques and drama. Conflict is inevitable, but make sure it’s dealt with in a mature and professional manner. Petty squabbles and grudges are signs of negative relationships and can have an adverse impact on productivity.

The bottom line is we spend a large portion of our life at work, sometimes seeing coworkers more than our families, and for better or for worse, this leads to relationships forming. Measuring these relationships and making sure they maintain a positive status is crucial to your organization’s success.

Having the right team can make all the difference when it comes to productivity, workplace conflict and employee turnover rates. Employees will stay longer, work harder and enjoy the office, too.

How do you manage workplace relationships? What factors do you find important when considering workplace relationships?

Related: 8 Ways to Build Trust in the Workplace (Infographic)