“It’s hard to make friends as an adult,” says Andrea Goodkin, partner at HR consulting firm Laurus Strategies. Spending 40-plus hours a week with just your iPod can be draining, so she has tips for connecting with co-workers.
• Participate. It may not have been cool in high school, but be a joiner. Go to a lunch for new employees or sign up for the company softball team. “The biggest thing is awareness of opportunities,” Goodkin says.
• Include others. Companies and managers need to create an inclusive atmosphere, not just wait for it to happen. Setting up a “culture committee” to measure and manage your mission can be one way to make sure everyone’s happy. Because, Goodkin says, happy employees often means happy clients and customers.
• Get distracted. Being left out can be frustrating for workers who want to be more involved. If you’re not feeling the love from your co-workers, consider what’s going on in other departments. “Request to be a part of [another] project team or request to work on that particular project,” Goodkin says. But don’t let your own work suffer — that’ll hinder more than just your office cred.
• Plug in. If someone comes into work, plugs in their earbuds and doesn’t unplug until quitting time, there’s little a boss, co-workers or Barney can do. If you can’t hear office banter or an invite to lunch, you’ll have an even harder time joining in later.