The Importance Of Working With People You Like

I’m a big fan of job satisfaction. As I have reported here before, the research evidence consistently shows that individuals satisfied with their jobs are more committed, better organizational citizens, and even better performers. The evidence also suggests that organizations with satisfied employees outperform organizations with disgruntled employees.

If you are a manager and you are not paying attention to job satisfaction, you are making a big mistake. It’s one of the easiest job attitudes to listen for and observe in employees, and there is a lot of good evidence-based advice on how to improve job satisfaction.

A study published in 2010 in the Journal of Vocational Behavior suggests that how people feel about their co-workers affects their job satisfaction. The interesting thing about this study is they went on to show that satisfaction with co-workers not only affected overall job satisfaction, but it also affected daily satisfaction with life. If you like the people you work with, you are more likely to be satisfied with your job, and ultimately more satisfied with your life.

The research also showed that the affect of work on life satisfaction matters more for some people than others. If you are the type of person that is warm, generous, cooperative, unselfish, and trusting, you have an agreeable personality. The study found that the relationships between co-worker satisfaction, job satisfaction, and life satisfaction were even more pronounced for people with an agreeable personality.

The implications for individuals are obvious. If you don’t like the folks you work with, you probably also don’t like your job, and it’s affecting how you feel about your life. Your well-being matters. Life is too short to work with and for assholes, and if you spend too much time around them at work, it could get even shorter for you. Working with people you like is important.

If you are a manager, you would be wise to focus on creating and maintaining a positive interpersonal work environment. Separate research shows that social job characteristics (e.g. interdependence, feedback from others, social support, and interaction outside of work) affect performance, commitment, and turnover. In other words, decisions you make as a manager about the design of the workplace affect how people get along with each other. If the people that work for you don’t like each other, you can bet it is affecting your bottom line. If they do like each other, they are probably also pretty happy.

Happy employees are more likely to say good things about you and your business, and with the rise of social media they have more opportunities to spread the word. More than ever, happy employees are good for business.


Bret L. Simmons, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Management at The University of Nevada, Reno. He earned his doctorate in Business Administration at Oklahoma State University. Bret blogs about leadership and social business at his website Positive Organizational Behavior. You can also find him on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.


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2 Responses to “The Importance Of Working With People You Like”

  1. There are certain things you do not realize until you read them, and through your article I have come to realizeof how important is that, to work with the people we like

    • david says:

      Couldn’t agree more. It’s one of those things that at first you think “duh” and then as you think about it more you realize just how important it is. Thanks for the comment!