In college, I was one of those people that was always doing something with friends. I was in volunteer organizations. I was an RA and planned events for my residents. I would study at the library in small groups.
In short, as a young adult, I thrived being in community with other people. I didn’t realize then that this lifestyle of working well with others and valuing friendship would impact my professional life after graduation.
I met my future husband while in college (he lived in Nashville and I lived in Wisconsin) and we got married a few months after I graduated. All of a sudden, I was in a new city, had a new husband, and knew no one except my new co-workers.
In that first job, I learned the value of friendship at work. I was quickly embraced not just as a professional, but as a friend. The people I worked with threw me a bridal shower, and then a few years later, a baby shower. They were the people I told my everyday ordinary and extraordinary stories. They were the ones who came to the hospital when my oldest was born and celebrated like extended family.
Fifteen years later, my job has changed, but the value I have found in the people I work with hasn’t. Some of my closest friends work alongside me. It is a joy to go to work because of the people in my office. Which is why, when my office bestie announced that she was getting a new job, I sobbed. To say I am both thrilled for her and devastated for me is not an understatement. She has given me the gift of understanding, trust, and kindness that is a rare gift.
We see in Scripture time and again how much Jesus valued and invested in the people He worked with – the disciples. He knew them well. He loved them. And His ministry flourished, in part, because they were invested not just in the work of spreading the gospel, but in one another.
Here are three ways to foster community in your workplace:
Celebrate the big and little moments: YES to balloons, banners, cards, and gifts. YES to bridal and baby showers. YES to hugs and shouts of joy. By joining your co-workers in celebrating wins of any kind – from a victory in the boardroom to a new baby – you are saying to them, I see you. You matter. Your joy is my joy.
Do life outside of work: Yes, I know you are likely with these people a lot already. But the only way to go deeper with someone is to get together outside of work. I recently was invited by a colleague to her home for a night making homemade pasta – and then eating it. There were five of us in all, and the night was delightful. We talked about so much life – from family challenges and work dynamics to favorite books and more. I left feeling so much closer to each of the women there.
Practice gratitude: Letting your co-workers know they are appreciated is incredibly important. Never forget the way positive, kind words can make an impact on others. Say thank you for good work, inclusion, and support. I often include words like “I appreciate you,” “thank you for being someone I can come to,” or “thank you for thinking to include me on this” to convey my gratitude.
If you work, share a way you invest in workplace friendship. Let’s inspire one another to love our co-workers well.
For more on the beauty and challenges of work, read Jessica’s new book: Stretched Too Thin: How Working Moms Can Lose the Guilt, Work Smarter, and Thrive.
Never forget the way positive, kind words can make an impact on others. - @jessicanturner: Click To Tweet