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Blending work-life relationships – where do Swedes draw the line?
Younger employees in Sweden are much more sociable with their colleagues outside of office hours than older ones. That´s one of the main conclusions of the study about work-life relationships, conducted by PageGroup.
As we previously explored in the article:‘Blurring work-life communication – are you always on?’ it is fairly easy to understand how technology blurs the lines between our work and private lives, and how this also impacts on our happiness levels.
What is less easy to see is how the blending of professional and private social circles can also affect our happiness. And with more than 97% of respondents to our survey in Sweden saying that positive relationships at work are important to them, this subject is not going anywhere soon.
More than 50% of young employees spend time with colleagues on weekends
PageGroup decided to investigate the work-life balance phenomnenon by conducting a survey of 459 people in Sweden, over a period of 3 months. Separating our private and professional lives is becoming increasingly complex due to the presence of connected devices, activities outside of work, and normal out-of-office socialising. The introduction of Millennials and Generation Y have also changed the equilibrium of the workforce, with their differing expectations of what a workplace should offer.
In 21st century Sweden, 41% of employees have contact with their colleagues outside of office hours. This could mean sending messages or calling each other about topics that are not related to work (26,6%), meeting after work for social gatherings (25,4%), events at weekends (4,8%), or even going on holidays with colleagues (3,7%).
The survey also tells us that these social norms change as people a) get older and have families, and b) have more responsibility at work, highlighting that the new generations entering the workplace have different drivers when creating bonds with colleagues. For example, less than 30% of over 35 people socialise after work, compared with more than 40% of under 35 – and almost three times as many under 35 go on trips with their colleagues!
More than 50% of people under 35 spend time with colleagues in the weekend. For people over 35 that´s only 25%. As family becomes important outside of the office, work colleagues less so. Does this have an impact on productivity?
Friendly relationships boost productivity
In Sweden today almost 96% of people believe that having good relationships with their colleagues in the workplace will positively affect productivity – with almost 94% agreeing that the same is true for the relationship with their manager.
Employee well-being and fulfilment are the real drivers of performance. When employees get to know and understand their colleagues, this creates trust – and a bond that positively influences professionality.
Companies understand this, which is why they actively encourage employees to meet outside of work for company social activities. In fact, more than 32% of employees’ family have met their colleagues, with more than 28% happening at their employers initiative (Christmas parties, summer picnics, birthday parties, etc.).
Employees closer to direct colleagues than managers
As the old saying goes, there is no constant in business but change. The current effects of technology and the gradual flattening of the management pyramid are seeing businesses undergoing a revolution of sorts. To improve delivery, teams are being empowered to build broader skillsets and work more closely together.
That said, an amount of distance remains deeply rooted in the relationships between managers and their employees, and vice versa. Only 21,5% of employees say that they have contact with their direct manager outside working hours.
Only 10,3% exchange calls or messages that are not related to work, and just 10,9% spend time with them in the evening on weekdays, more than 15% less than with their colleagues at the same level. This fact is compounded when the statistics tell us that while nearly 70% of respondents say they are friends with their colleagues, only 21,8% say they are friends with their manager.
About the study
Sample: the survey was conducted among a sample of 459 people in Sweden, including unemployed people, employees, and managers.
Methodology: the representativeness of the sample assured by an adjustment of the data (gender, occupation of the interviewee, proportion of people in a job).
Collection method: the interviews consisted of self-administered questionnaires completed online from March to May.