Do You Have a Best Friend at Work?

best friend at workOrganizations in almost every industry are constantly looking at ways to increase employee engagement and impact retention. One strategy they may need to pay more attention to is one that sounds a little…soft.

Help people make friends.

According to Gallup, employees who indicate they have a best friend at work are more engaged, more productive, have lower turnover, and deliver higher levels of customer service.  While only 30% of the workforce say they have a best friend at work, this group is 7 times as likely to be engaged. Seven!

The reality of going to work every day means that employees spend as much (and sometimes more) time with co-workers than with family. Human beings are social creatures so it makes sense that over time meaningful friendships form in the workplace.

That’s not to say that the relationship with a “work best friend” has to be on par with that of a lifelong best friend. A best friend at work is someone the employee can turn to during times of stress and challenge. It’s someone that can share in accomplishments and celebrations and who cares about the employee as a person.

That connection to another person or to a group of co-workers appears to strengthen the connection to the employer as well. Beyond the quantifiable attributes of a job (salary, benefits, perks, title, etc.) the quality and depth of workplace relationships can have a significant impact on loyalty. Simply put, employees with established, meaningful workplace relationships are less likely to leave.  Which brings us back to our earlier point:

Organizations that want to increase engagement and retention may want to help employees make friends at work.

Successful managers recognize that they have a responsibility to create an environment employees want to work in. This means they take ownership not just for the quality of the relationships they have with employees, but the quality of relationships employees have with each other. When team members view each other only through the lens of “work” meaningful relationships are less likely to take hold. Instead organizations, and the people that lead them, should work to identify and support managers that bring appropriate social joy into the workplace. Create and support opportunities for team members to get to know each other at work. These opportunities to socialize are truly an important investment in engagement and retention.

[What do you think? Does having a best friend at work make a difference? How has it helped you? As a leader do you invest time and energy to help your teams develop and strengthen their friendships?  Share your thoughts in the comments box below!]


2 thoughts on “Do You Have a Best Friend at Work?

  1. It can be difficult to have a best friend at work, since so often managers and leaders are encouraged to “draw the line” between themselves and their staff to eliminate any favoritism issues.

    • Hi Lynn! You bring up a great point: the challenge MANAGERS face in establishing these kinds of relationships at work. A “best” friend at work needs to be someone they can confide in, vent to, etc. and direct reports don’t necessarily fit the bill. That’s why it’s crucial for managers to find ways to network at work with PEERS. Finding ways to be active with a peer group at work, through training, meetings, events, etc., can lead to these kinds of relationships which can then be furthered through additional contact (phone, lunch, email, etc.). Thanks for the observation and for stopping by! ~Joe

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