07/11/2014 11:24 am ET Updated Jul 14, 2014

A Benefit Of Having A Workplace BFF

Paul Bradbury via Getty Images

By: Chad Brooks
Published: 07/11/2014 08:43 AM EDT on BusinessNewsDaily

Co-worker friendships could be the key to getting the most out of your youngest employees, new research suggests.

Nearly 60 percent of workers ages 18 to 24 say friendships in the workplace make them happy, according to a study from LinkedIn. Additionally, 50 percent say work friends keep them motivated, and 39 percent say work friends make them more productive.

It's not just millennials who enjoy having friends in the office; nearly half of all the employees surveyed believe they are happier when they are friends with their co-workers.

"Relationships matter because they help us feel connected, making us more motivated and productive," Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn's director of corporate communications, wrote on the company's blog. "It's much easier to share feedback with someone if you have built up a solid rapport, or ask someone for advice if you have invested in the relationship."

The research revealed that personal relationships among co-workers have evolved in recent years. Nearly 70 percent of millennial professionals are likely to share personal details — including salary, relationships and family issues — with co-workers, compared to only about one-third of baby boomers.

This shift in personal relationships from generation to generation is also affecting how employees communicate with their bosses. The research discovered that one in three millennials have texted their manager outside of work hours for a nonwork-related issue, compared to only 10 percent of baby boomers.

"I'm not suggesting we all start texting our managers at any hour about our latest crush or favorite new shirt, but it does indicate that our growing workforce wants to have more of a connection," Fisher wrote.

Fisher offered several tips to help managers who aren't comfortable with becoming too personal with their employees, while also helping to ensure their millennial employees feel connected:

  • Don't limit conversations to email or formal meetings. Take awalking meeting. Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn’s culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for a more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to, and ultimately more connected, Fisher said.
  • Take an interest in their personal lives. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should have an interest in your teammates as people. Take a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level. If your colleague always jets out with her yoga mat, ask her about it. Work is only a part of who people are. If you get to know people's other passions, it may give you a glimpse into what motivates them.
  • Congratulate, share and like. A simple gesture on social media can do wonders for employee morale. Think how great it feels to get "a job well done" email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network. It feels great to get acknowledged for your hard work, and by sharing it publicly, you also help to build your professional brand.

The study was based on surveys of more than 11,500 full-time working professionals from around the world.

Originally published on Business News Daily.

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