What Matters for Women at Work?
Audrey Nelson, Ph.D :
Organizations cannot ask employees to check their emotions and basic human needs at the door. For women and men, work needs to be a place for connections with others and forming friendships. Work is the single place where we spend more time than any other context. All employees crave a social outlet. Managers should help foster and create opportunities for employees to forge friendships and get to know one another. Of course, none of us like all people at work the same and we choose who we want to be closer too. The simple premise is people are people and they need to create relationships.
Women have a high need for affiliation. We are all social animals and both men and women want to belong to a community. Approval and affiliation can bring down a teen girl and a senior executive equally. Friendships are important to women, and they learn young the prerequisite of liking other children in order to play with them. Fast forward to a managerial level: Women feel an immense loyalty to their colleagues. It is common for women to refuse to transfer to another department because of the bond they have with existing peers.
Gallup found that two-thirds of women say the social aspect of a job is the "major reason" why they work, confirming that women's friendships affect their overall engagement. According to Gallup, more female employees than male employees have thriving social well-being, 38% versus 36%, respectively. But women who are out of the workplace are doing the best at managing their social well-being. Forty-five percent of women in this group are thriving in this element-seven percent more than working women. They simply may have more time to devote to social activities. If organizations want to attract and retain female employee, they have to help employed women lead a life well-lived by encouraging and allowing them to be friend with their peers. Even in 2016 some companies discourage forming friendships at work. Some organizations set HR policies against friendships with the belief that socialization hinders productivity. Gallup research proves that having a best friend at work can result in "better business outcomes, profitability, safety, inventory control and, most notably customers' emotional connection and loyalty to the organization."
In short, companies that discourage or prevent women from being friends only hurt themselves and make it more difficult to retain a competitive workforce.
(Audrey Nelson, Ph.D., is an international corporate communication consultant, trainer, author, and keynote speaker).