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Friday, February 19, 2016

work arounds

"Do you have a best friend at work?"

Magnum was telling me about his employee satisfaction surveys, and how he finds this question interesting/comical.   But I know it shows up on such surveys because  studies have shown... employees are more satisfied at work if they are happy socially at work.

Now Magnum is waiting for the next round of survey taking so that he can answer a big fat "NO!".  Jake, Magnum's "best friend at work" was sadly laid off a few weeks ago.  Jake is actually one of the few (now ex-) of Magnum's coworkers I know.  He and Magnum carpooled together.  We went to Jake's wedding, which so happened to be on our anniversary, a few years ago.  He's a nice guy, and I assume he was productive at work, but the company needed to trim.

While we're sad that Jake no longer works there and that Magnum doesn't have a carpool anymore, in the big picture, I think Jake will be okay.  He got a decent severance, his wife works full-time, they don't have any kids, and Jake has marketable work experience and recently earned his MBA.  He was kinda sorta looking to move on anyway.  In fact, I'm suspicious that management had an inkling of Jake's thinking of moving on, which made him an easy target for layoff.


We were talking about this and work friendships in general last night as we were taking China for her beauty walk.  I've heard it said that people often have a "work husband/wife" - not meant in the marital relations context, but traditionally meaning a coworker of the opposite sex with whom they share the most stuff with.

I don't currently work in a workplace with typical coworker interactions, and I thought back to when I did - before I left the corporate world behind to be a stay-at-home mom.


"Geez, come to think of it, I had a whole harem of work husbands!", I revelated.

The majority of my coworkers were men.  Men of all ages.  Conversations weren't always work related, and I remember thinking that the stereotypical "man talk" was over generalized.  These guys would talk about struggles with their diets, relationship problems, worries about kids, new recipes they wanted to try - similar stuff as what is considered girl talk.  Yes, they would discuss sports, particularly on Monday mornings.  And lawnmowers.  What is it about lawnmowers that makes them SUCH a topic of discussion??

But I heard my fair share of labor and delivery stories too.  Very interesting from the man's point of view.  I've also gotten much TMI regarding vasectomies...

Some of this, I suspect, might have come from them not having many women at work to gab with.  Maybe if I and the few other women weren't around, they would just happily go on about sports and lawnmowers.  And while I know they discussed those other things with guys too, I honestly think they enjoyed the opportunity for "girl talk" with actual "girls".  I never had the feeling that they were just trying to make conversation with the females to be accommodating.

And thinking back to those surveys, I agree.  It's important for workplace happiness to have friends at work rather than just coworkers.  And Jake's absence is being felt.  Magnum says that management has already gotten earfuls regarding the way the layoffs were handled.

Not long after I left, one of my work husbands got laid off.  To make things worse, the manager who laid him off was a woman I'd known from another department, and I had recommended her for the management position.

I never told my work husband that part of the story.  Could've been grounds for "divorce".

Do you have a best friend at work?  A work husband/wife?

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5 comments:

  1. I have some pretty close work family: two work sisters and a whole pile of work daughters (those who report directly to me). I don't have a work husband at the moment, although I have had that kind of friendship in the past. I agree that it's very important for people to have supportive social relationships at work. I encourage that as part of my role as manager, and I only bug people about chit-chatting if it's really excessive or their work is suffering because of it.

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  2. Hmm... If a work husband is someone I tell everything to, then no. If it's someone I'm honest with and can be myself with and can make fun of, then yes.
    I love to see my employees talking and laughing with each other. I think it creates a healthy environment and makes coming to work more enjoyable. 'cause let's face it. Some hotel jobs are not all that fun to do.
    I hope Jake's gonna be ok. And I hope Magnum finds another best friend. Does all this talk make you excited to get back into the workforce? My hubby's been working at home for so long that he's craving companionship outside the home. I guess I'm ok with him having a work wife. :/

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  3. There are three women at work whom I would classify in the "best" friend category. Among the three, there are plenty of opportunities to laugh and joke, share recipes and exchange health and fitness ideas. We also share family stories, problems, and "talk God." I consider myself extremely lucky to work in a place with such emotional and personal support. In fact, I would say that these types of relationships are common around the office, and encouraged. Both work and personal support are just the norm.

    I do have a work husband as well. We are co-champions for a particular product, but we joke that we are work spouses because there's a level of annoyance to the way we communicate with one another about work issues. But there is also a level of friendship there, and we do talk about relationships, pets and kids on occasion.

    So sorry for Jake. It does sound like he shouldn't have much trouble finding something else. Replacing a good friend probably won't be quite as easy, but I hope both Magnum and Jake find others to fill that gap.

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  4. I hope Magnum finds another work friend. I would have to say my work husband is my boss, although not because I share personal things with him. I don't do too much of that. It's more because I remind him of things, take care of his company's books, help him keep things straight. If my "real" husband texts me at work and I don't answer for a while because I'm taking care of my boss, he always jokes about how my work husband is cutting into my real husband time. Especially if my work husband texts me at home with a question about something that he just couldn't wait till Monday to ask me. Which is kind of often. Both husbands are a little high maintenance.

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  5. When I was in corporate America, back in the dark ages, I always had work husbands. Come to think of it, I can't make the comparison because at the time, I didn't have a real husband. As a single person, I had to be careful with the guys who had wives at home. Too much chatting would cause people to give you "the look." No regrets, though... it was fun talking to the guys.

    Surveys about whether you have a best friend at work... hmmm... I "guess" that's a good thing; that someone cares about your psychological well-being.

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