The emotionality of friendship in the workplace and the impact on the organisational life
Greco (Dr.), Silvana
Department of Social and Political Studies University of Milan Milano, Italy
Drawing on accounts from qualitative biographical in-depth narratives with 50 female and male adults (35-65 years old) working in small and bigger work organisations in Italy, this paper deals with adult friendship and the related emotions that arise from this particular social relation and interaction such as joy, happiness, sadness, anger, envy, between colleagues in the workplace, how they develop in time and what kind of gender differences can be underlined. Moreover, the paper examines how the emotionality of friendship in the workplace shape and affect the work experience and work attitude, the career opportunities and what kind of role they play during periods of work difficulties such as a job change (employment transitions) and a job loss, which often represent emotionally traumatic events.
Although both men than women agree that friendship in the workplace has more difficulties to arise especially in a competitive work environment, once colleagues become friends the workplace becomes a place "to feel at home", where in particular women express freely their emotions increasing their job satisfaction and social cohesion of the work team, therefore, improving the work attitude. Men underline that the comprehension of the rules and practices of the organisation through a colleague friend is a crucial element in a organisational life. In addition, friendship enhances collaboration, mitigates competition and supports in the long run their career. Said this, friendship can destabilize also the work relationship interfering with negative emotions such as anger, envy or jealousy or risking to transform it in a more intimate relationship. Both men than women emphasise the importance of an emotional support from "colleague friends" during employment transitions.