By Bellayana

Having a gig where I like my coworkers is not just an option for me. It’s a must.

Think about it: You spend more time with your coworkers than your families, significant others, and even your children. Why not try and like the company we’re forced to keep?! Or, as the expression goes, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

I find that more friends I have at work, the better I am at my job. If I make connections, I know who to go to for help with a new project when I need information. If I have someone to talk out my frustrations with, I’m less likely to lose it at a meeting and look unprofessional. When I have someone to have lunch with or grab a coffee with, it can break up a particularly stressful day or give me a chance to look at something I’m working on with fresh eyes. After reading an article published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, it seems I’m on to something.

A piece entitled “Health Determined by Social Relationships at Work” found that people who strongly identify with the people in their organization tend to have better health and lower burnout. This study analyzed 58 studies and over 19,000 people. It’s the first significantly sized analysis focusing on the identification-health relationship. A surprising find to the team of researchers (but not so surprising to me!), was that if a research sample contained more women, the identification-health relationship was weaker. Put simply, these results show that women often identify less with their workplace and thus reap less health benefits.

While the authors didn’t further explore the reasoning, they surmised that this had to do with the fact that workplaces traditionally have a masculine culture or feel. In my opinion, these findings make a lot of sense. We’re all aware that a pay gap exists between men and women, and how women are perceived in the workplace. If you work in a mostly male organization, women are less likely to authentically socialize or they may chose not to socialize at all.

The team that conducted this research plans to further explore whether the identification-health relationship plays a part in performance and what role leadership plays on this relationship.

The bottom line is the more included you feel at work, the better your health and well being. So start making some friends at work. Invite that quiet co-worker who always wears great shoes to lunch. Ask the co-worker who always has the best ideas in meetings for help with a creative project you’re struggling on. Make small talk by the water cooler. Get to work and make some friends; your health could depend on it!

This article originally appeared on VINAZINE.