Coffee with Coworkers May Increase Your Lifespan

Don’t think of Monday as the start of a rough work week–think of it as another opportunity to improve your health. The trick is to have supportive relationships with your coworkers.

Research published in the journal Health Psychology found that companies that offer a friendly work environment and encourage supportive relationships have employees that live longer. Researchers followed 820 healthy people employed at a variety of different companies for 20 years. The results were surprising, and impressive:  Employees who reported that they had the personal support of their peers at work were more likely to live a longer life. In fact, people who said they had low levels of social support were more than twice as likely to die during the 20-year follow-up than those with high levels of support.

According to a ScienceDaily article about this research:

“We spend most of our waking hours at work, and we don’t have much time to meet our friends during the weekdays,” explains [researcher Dr. Sharon Toker of the Department of Organizational Behavior at Tel Aviv Univerity’s Leon Recanati Graduate School of Business Administration]. “Work should be a place where people can get necessary emotional support.”

Support in the workplace means more than an occasional birthday cake. What can companies do to encourage support among coworkers? The researchers have some answers, based on their 20-year study:

Dr. Toker suggests coffee corners where people can congregate to sit and talk; informal social outings for staff members; an internal virtual social network similar to Facebook; or a peer-assistance program where employees can confidentially discuss stresses and personal problems that may affect their position at work — anything that encourages employees to feel emotionally supported, she says. [from the ScienceDaily write-up]

There is no way to be friends with every individual you work with, but this research should be reason enough for companies to stop pitting employees against each other, and to encourage a “work hard, play hard…together” atmosphere.

(We’ll look the other way if you decide to put a copy of this blog on your supervisor’s desk.)

To read the full ScienceDaily article, click here: Hang Out at the Water Cooler, Live Longer

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