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How a Work Wife Can Supercharge Your Career

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Chances are you or someone you know has a “work spouse.” More than 50% of female employees and 44% of male employees have one. A work wife is a colleague who has your back whether you need to bounce ideas off someone, or you just need someone to pump you up before asking for a raise. Your commitment to each other is such that it’s almost like a marriage.

While people may usually think of work spouses as the opposite gender pairings, they aren’t always. In a corporate world where still only 29% of top management spots are reserved for women, it can be all too easy to think of your female coworkers as competition. But when it comes down to it, we’re at our best when we lift others up. If you’re a woman in the workforce, having a work wife who understands the struggles you face in a male-dominated office setting can be a game changer for your career growth and your sanity.

Even if they aren’t actively encouraging you to ask for that raise or championing their ideas in a meeting, studies have proven that your both your partner and friends play a role in your overall success, so it only follows that your work wife would play a role as well. That’s why finding your work wife isn’t just fun, it’s essential to thriving in your career.

Skip to the infographic below, or keep reading for just a few of the benefits of having a work wife:

1. She Has Your Back

No matter if you’re in serious need of caffeine in the afternoon slump, or just got interrupted again in the meeting, she’s there to pick you up and make sure you’re heard. It can be exhausting to fight to make sure you have a voice, especially in an office culture where men dominate proceedings. That’s why women in the White House are known to practice something called amplification. When no one acknowledges a woman’s idea in a meeting, another woman repeats her ideas and states who said it until her voice is heard.

You and your work wife will both have someone who can lift each other up when you aren’t being heard or need to grab teas and vent. When you feel valued and seen, you’re bound to feel more confident in the work that you do, and do better work because of it.

2. She Helps Manage Stress

We all have tough weeks — a heavy workload or a negative performance review can get us feeling overwhelmed fast. Having someone you can send a cat meme to, no questions asked, is invaluable. Stress can have a major impact on your productivity, and while many feel that work and personal life should be separate to maintain “balance,” there’s many who believe work-life balance is a harmful myth, and we should be trying to enjoy our workdays.

Being around a best friend has been shown to reduce levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. So even if you feel too busy to spare a moment, taking a break at your work wife’s desk can help you tackle all those tasks more quickly.

3. You Both Foster a Culture of Collaboration

Pat yourself on the back, because your friendship with your work wife can positively impact everyone around you. When you aren’t only focused on your own performance, everyone benefits. Rather than viewing coworkers as competitors, collaborating across projects and sharing ideas means the whole team can come up with creative ideas faster. A sense of camaraderie is essential for workplace happiness, which is in turn a vital part of productivity.

When employees have a strong sense of connection with their coworkers, they are more likely to care about contributing to the business as a whole. That’s why Gallup estimates that if just 6 in 10 employees had a best friend in any given company, the organization can see 12% higher profits overall.

4. She Helps You Take Risks

When you’re worried about impressing your boss, competing with others, and never letting anyone see you sweat — it can be hard to take risks. Whether you hold back your great, but unusual ideas, or bite your tongue when it comes to asking for a more challenging project, your work wife can be there to egg you on. A Gallup poll found that people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully at work. Sometimes all it takes to take a leap is someone at your side saying, “Go for it!”

How to Find Your Work Wife:

Sure, having your work wife sounds good, but when it comes down to it, it takes time. You may know you’ve found your special someone at first sight, or it may take some time to let the friendship grow. If you’re struggling to find your work wife, here are some steps to take:

1. Get Involved at Work

If your office has coordinated happy hours, weekly lunches, or quarterly social gatherings, don’t skip out on them! Not only do you reap the benefits of the perks themselves, but the best way to find your work soulmate is to put yourself out there.

If your office doesn’t coordinate group get-togethers, you can still find ways to play the field. Volunteer for a new project in a new setting, or jump in a brainstorm meeting. Simply spending more time in common areas may lead to the chance encounter you’ve been waiting for. If all else fails, don’t be afraid to suggest a company outing to your boss, or an impromptu happy hour to your coworkers. If anyone needs convincing, just share that collaboration improves productivity by up to 30%.

2. Look For Common Interests

This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you’re unsure where to start, identifying things you and someone else both like is a great place to begin. The science backs it up, too. People are known to gravitate towards things that are similar to themselves. For example, we tend to like people with names similar to our own, and studies have even found that we tend to be genetically more similar to friends than strangers.

So if you want to find your work wife in the office, start with someone similar to yourself. Ask about their weekend, hobbies, and favorite TV shows. Chances are you can identify similarities that you can both discuss.

3. Get To Know Her Better

Now there’s only so far small talk can go — to cement your friendship with your work wife, you have to get to know them better. What do they think is funny? How do they spend their attention when listening to a story or watching a show? What are their goals in and outside of work?

You don’t have to grill them — try spending some time grabbing a coffee at lunch with them or getting them on an afternoon walk. It will take time to build the bonds that make a work wife special.

Once you can stop by her desk just to update her on your search for a new apartment and ask if the wedding she went to last weekend was as bad as she thought it would be, you’ll be well on your way to workplace matrimony.

4. Cement Your Support

Now that you have a work BFF to woo, it’s time to make your commitment apparent. Remember that you and your work wife’s relationship should be reciprocal — take the time if she’s having a bad day to grab her favorite sweet from the coffee shop or curate a funny article you know she’ll love.

Champion her ideas when she isn’t sure of them, and back her up if she gets talked over. The bond of work wife is this commitment to being there for each other.

Check out our infographic for a quick review of everything you need to know to find your work wife:

Sources: Gallup | EllevateNetwork | SHRM 

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood

Meredith Wood is the founding editor of the Fundera Ledger and a vice president at Fundera. She launched the Fundera Ledger in 2014 and has specialized in financial advice for small business owners for almost a decade. Meredith is frequently sought out for her expertise in small business lending. She is a monthly columnist for AllBusiness, and her advice has appeared in the SBA, SCORE, Yahoo, Amex OPEN Forum, Fox Business, American Banker, Small Business Trends, MyCorporation, Small Biz Daily, StartupNation, and more. Email: meredith@fundera.com.