catherine workbff

People always ask me how I got my job at LinkedIn. The answer? My relationships. I’ve worked directly with three of my teammates at other companies, including my boss. And it’s not a coincidence. For me, the people I work with are just as important as the company and job description. And, apparently, I’m not alone. Our Relationships @Work study revealed that 46% of professionals worldwide believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness.

Relationships matter because they help us feel connected, making us more motivated and productive. 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. We’re also seeing a shift in how personal these relationships get: 67% of millennials are likely to share personal details including salary, relationships and family issues with co-workers, compared to only about one third of baby boomers. I come from the generation where it is taboo to talk about salary, but knowing that this is changing, I won’t be so taken aback if a fellow co-worker starts dishing details on their personal life to me!

With this shift towards the more personal, millennials are also comfortable casually communicating with their managers outside of the office. The study found that one in three (28%) millennials have texted a manager out of work hours for a non-work related issue, compared to only 10% 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. If the super-personal makes you uncomfortable, here are some suggestions to make your millennial workforce feel connected:

  • Don’t limit conversations to only email or formal meetings. Take a walking 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.
  • Take an interest in the personal. 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 their yoga mat, ask them about it! Work is only a part of who we 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 LinkedIn 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.

It goes without saying that relationships with your current colleagues are just as important to maintain as your former colleagues. Your paths will cross again. While you may not see them every day in the break room, you can easily stay up-to-date on their professional wins on LinkedIn and celebrate their success by sharing it with your network.

Check out the photo above for a selfie of me and my work BFFs. Grab your phone, snap a photo of you and your work BFF, upload it to LinkedIn, and join the conversation! #WorkBFF