About 65% of people maintain close friendships with at least one co-worker, according to a study by Good&Co. What do workplace friendships mean for productivity and company culture?
- Employee turnover is lower in organizations that have exceptional cultures characterized by trust and inclusion.
- Women and men who have a best friend at work perform better than employees without any close relationships.
- Organizations should invest in building a culture that encourages friendships and inclusion among its employees.
Do you have a close friend at work? Research from job-hunting platform Good&Co shows that 65% of workers maintain a tight-knit friendship with at least one co-worker. These types of relationships can boost employee satisfaction and engagement, and it shows. Good&Co's researchers found that 54% of employers believe strong work relationships improve company culture.
"Relationships matter because they help us feel connected, making us more motivated and productive," Catherine Fisher, LinkedIn's senior director of global integrated marketing and communications, wrote in a blog post. "It's much easier to share feedback with someone if you have built up a solid rapport, or ask someone for advice if you have invested in the relationship."
The research showed that employees increasingly value a positive social and cultural environment at work, nearly as much as good compensation. About 36% of workers say they look forward to going to work when they work with a friend, and 31% feel stronger and more valued. The researchers found that people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be fully engaged and productive.
On the flip side, isolated workers tend to harbor negative emotions, which can be counterproductive and damaging to those employees' contributions to the overall team. An engaging, friendly environment is key to reaching out to those employees who would otherwise find themselves isolated and disconnected from the larger group.
Workplace friendships don't just stay in the workplace, either. After work hours, 59% of office friends communicate face to face, 50% speak with one another via messaging app, and 42% interact on social media. Work friends, then, are often real-life friends. Translating that support to the workplace can be vital for many employees.
"I'm not suggesting we all start texting our managers at any hour about our latest crush or a favorite new shirt, but it does indicate that our growing workforce wants to have more of a connection," Fisher wrote.
Managers can do their part to foster an inclusive social environment at work. By leveling with workers not just as subordinates, but taking a real interest in their lives, managers can foster the type of culture that values social bonding.
Fisher offered several tips to help managers who aren't comfortable with becoming too personal with their employees to ensure their millennial employees feel connected:
Don't limit conversations to email or formal meetings. Take a walking meeting. Walking meetings are part of LinkedIn's culture, and they are popular because people tend to relax during a walk, which allows for more open and creative discussion. Plus, not having a phone or computer interrupt you every second allows you to be more focused on the person you are talking to and, ultimately, more connected, Fisher said.
Take an interest in their personal lives. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should have an interest in your teammates as people. Take a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level. If your colleague always jets out with her yoga mat, ask her about it. Work is only one part of who people are. If you get to know people's other passions, it may give you a glimpse into what motivates them.
- Congratulate, share and like. A simple gesture on social media can do wonders for employee morale. Think of how great it feels to get a "job well done" email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network. It feels great to get acknowledged for your hard work, and by sharing it publicly, you also help to build your professional brand.
Benefits of having a best friend at work
Increased job satisfaction
Employees who have their best friends at work experience higher levels of job satisfaction. They are happier and often not looking for other job opportunities. According to Gallup, those who have a best friend at work are seven times as likely to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher-quality work, have a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job.
The study further found out that women who have a best friend at work were less likely to look for job opportunities. They are equally likely to experience positive experiences while not reporting any negative ones.
In a challenging situation, employees who report having a best friend at work have lower stress levels. They are more confident and composed in finding solutions to their problem. Their friends provide them with the required comfort.
Work can be monotonous. Regardless of what tasks you are performing, you are likely to experience burnout after working for some time. Individuals who have friends at work are less likely to experience burnout than workers without workplace friends.
Friendly challenges to improve
Best friends are likely to engage in friendly competitions to accomplish their tasks. Moreover, they are each other's constructive critics. Individuals often take criticism more positively when it comes from someone they care about.
Lower employee turnover
Employees who have a friend at work are less likely to search for other jobs. Work friendships provide a sense of work-life balance that allows employees to enjoy a social life in their workplace.