Interpersonal Contact at Work: Consequences for Wellbeing

By Donna-Louise McGrath.

Published by The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The opportunity for interpersonal contact is one feature of Warr’s (1987, 1994) Vitamin Model of psychological wellbeing. Within organisations, important modes of interpersonal contact occur within informal social spaces, which are governed by norms regarding acceptable behaviour. Interpersonal contact at work can have both positive and negative consequences for employee wellbeing. Positive contact, such as peer friendships, can provide an outlet for employees to express a range of different emotions, and their prevalence can increase employee retention. On the other hand, negative contact, such as bullying, can be toxic to wellbeing, and targets often experience anxiety and depression. However, peer and organisational support can protect the employee from some of the mental harm and emotional turmoil associated with such threats. By applying a novel positive psychology perspective, this paper explains how drawing on this social support combined with ‘seeking strength’ in intrinsically rewarding organisational spaces may help employees to develop resilience to threats to their wellbeing. The paper concludes with important practical implications and offers new directions for the future development of theories and measures of wellbeing.

Keywords: Wellbeing, Workplace Friendships, Social Support, Resilience

The International Journal of Health, Wellness and Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.33-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 358.860KB).

Dr. Donna-Louise McGrath


Dr. Donna-Louise McGrath has conducted research on workplace emotions, attitudes and behaviour. She has also researched motivation, goal setting and goal achievement. In the past, she has been a teacher (15 years) and has developed a new holistic training model. Her research interests are positive psychology, workplace envy, the tall poppy syndrome and gossip. Dr. McGrath has published and presented at several international conferences on topics such as teaching methodology, workplace emotions and behaviour.