When Relationships at Work, Work (And Don’t Work!)

By Rachel L. Morrison, Helena D. Cooper-Thomas & Susan Geertshuis

Like them or loathe them we cannot escape the people we work with. In Relationships in Organisations: A Work Psychology Perspective,1 Rachel L. Morrison, Helena D. Cooper-Thomas and Susan Geertshuis explore the positive and negative effects of the workplace. Below, the authors outline some key research findings with regards to workplace relationships, and explore two salient topics relating to the use and misuse of power at work – bullying and influence tactics.

Workplace Friends

Generally individuals who perceive that they have friends at work report higher job satisfaction, greater commitment to the organisation, increased cohesion, and lowered intention to leave. Researchers have consistently found that employees who are friendlier work well together, and a link has been found between relationship factors such as cooperation / social support and team productivity. Empirical studies on friendship generally highlight the positive outcomes of these relationships, including improved worker wellbeing, increased communication, support, trust, respect, cooperation, and influence. These in turn positively affect work-related attitudes and behaviours such as job satisfaction, commitment to the organisation and remaining with the organisation. Thus, friendships developed within the workplace represent a key element in the informal structure of an organisation, potentially facilitating organisational effectiveness.

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