Having close relationships is good for your physical health; they serve as a buffer during hard times, which can improve cardiovascular function and decrease stress levels. There was even a study done that showed that people who were in a strained or hostile relationship took longer to heal from an injury than those that were in a loving relationship. People with few social ties can have nearly twice the risk for heart disease, and are twice as likely to catch colds, even though they’re less likely to have exposure to germs from frequent social contact.
Studies show that the amount of time we spend socializing matters, and that 6 hours of social time per day is beneficial to our wellbeing and minimizes stress and worry. This 6 hours can include time spent at work, at home, on the phone, talking to friends, emailing, and other forms of communication. People who have almost no social time in a given day have an equal chance of having a good or a bad day. However, each hour you spend socializing actually decreases the odds of having a bad day. While there is an immediate increase in wellbeing day to day, there are also long-term benefits; studies have shown that socially active people over the age of 50 had their memories decline at less than half the rate of others who were less social.
Your entire social network affects your habits, health, and wellbeing. Investing in mutual relationships, a friendship with more than 2 people, can lead to better levels of wellbeing; and doing what we can to help others’ wellbeing helps the entire social network. This includes friends in your workplace. We all know work is easier and more fun if you have a friend to work with. Research shows that workers who have a best friend at work are 7 times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher quality work, have higher wellbeing, and are less likely to get injured on the job.
Having meaningful connections with coworkers can set the stage for improved wellbeing and long-term behavior change overall. People in social networks are influenced by one another, so good behaviors spread throughout the company, and people are able to lean on each other, and actually be more creative and productive. However, bad behaviors can also spread, so managers should keep an eye out that one employee isn’t contaminating others with bad habits just because they’re friends.