These are the six types of work 'mates' to watch out for

Picture: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
  • Employees with good team relationships are 2.5 times more likely to be happy.
  • But watch out for the office Favour Thief who never quite gets around to returning that good deed.
  • Workers in Western Australia don’t get along with their teams as well as the rest of Australia.

Australians report mostly positive relationships with colleagues at work, according to a survey of more than 2000.

But there are some typical work mates to look out for, including the Talkative Time Sucker and the Favour Thief.

More than eight in 10 (83%) Australian workers say they get along with the people in their immediate team. Some 68% feel the teams within their organisation work well together and 62% say they have good friends at work.

The survey by global recruiter Robert Half also finds that workers between the ages of 35 and 54 tend to have fewer good friends in the office (54%) than those aged 18 to 34 and over 55 (66%).

Friendships at work impact staff morale and company success. Happy employees tend to be more engaged and more productive.

The opposite is also true, with a lack of good co-worker relationships being one of the primary reasons employees may leave a job.

Western Australia lags the rest of Australia when it comes to work relationships.

While more than eight in 10 office workers in Queensland (85%), New South Wales (84%) and Victoria (83%) say they get along with their team, this drops to 77% in Western Australia.

This is also true for team cohesion, with only 57% of Western Australian workers saying they feel their team works well, compared to 67% in Victoria, 70% in Queensland and 71% in New South Wales.

The trend also seems to apply to having work friends. Half (53%) of office workers in Western Australia say they have good friends at work compared to 60% in Victoria, 64% in Queensland and 65% in New South Wales.

The research found Australian workers who have good relationships with their team are 2.5 times more likely to be happy on the job than those who don’t get along with their colleagues.

Robert Half has identified six types of workplace friends:

The Caring Critic. “Getting an honest opinion from someone who has your best interests at heart — and who understands the unique nuances and inner workings of your organisation — can help you fine-tune your approach so you can make the biggest impact and best impression possible,” says Half.

The Party Pooper. Fraternising with naysayers can influence your feelings about your job. “Be careful about aligning yourself with incorrigible whiners who constantly complain or divulge in office gossip,” says Half. They may not be entirely trustworthy.

The Handy Helper. A reliable friend in the office can help when you feel overburdened. “While lone-wolf workers might be left to fend for themselves during a deadline emergency, professionals who’ve made the effort to build some strong alliances will have no shortage of helping hands to call upon,” says Half.

The Talkative Time Sucker. Be mindful of how much time you spend socialising. “Keep the water-cooler banter to a minimum and don’t let lunch hour turn into an all-afternoon banter session,” says Half.

The Cool-Headed Veteran. Forging a friendship with a successful and upbeat senior colleague is a smart move. “In times of crisis or uncertainty, a time-tested colleague who’s been down this road before can impart wisdom and a sense of perspective,” says Half.

The Favour Thief. Those who always need help but never seem to get around to returning the favour. “If you’re constantly pitching in for a so-called friend who never returns the favour, it’s time to re-evaluate the relationship,” says Half. “Likewise, if a colleague assisted you in your hour of need, it’s imperative that you reciprocate — even if their request for backup comes at an inopportune time.”

Nicole Gorton, director of Robert Half Australia, says getting along with colleagues and having friends at work can make all the difference.

“Maintaining a close-knit bond with co-workers improves employee communication, collaboration and staff cohesion which in turn can lead to greater innovation,” she says.

“Great teamwork and trust amongst colleagues can also help workers better manage the challenges, stress and potential conflicts within the workplace.

“Happy employees are the backbone of a successful organisation as they tend to be more productive and engaged. Incidentally, a lack of good relationships with co-workers and managers is one of the main reasons why employees leave a company.”

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