Let’s face it – we spend more time with the people we work with than with family and friends. Regardless of the size of an organization, we are hanging out with the same group of people for 40 hours a week – or more. In many cases, we are doing this for years.
The old adage is that familiarity breeds contempt. It can also breed friendship. The more positive and inviting a workplace environment is the better we feel about our job, the company we work for and our co-workers. Office politics aside we all likely have at least one friend that we made on the job.
The question – at least for this blog post – is: Does having a best friend at work improve productivity? A quick trip through the Googleverse can yield some answers.
A recent Gallup study suggests women who have a best friend at work are more likely to be engaged (63%) than those who do not (29%). According to their employee engagement database, 20% of both female and male employees strongly agree they have a best friend at work. If that was moved to 60%, companies would see 36% fewer safety incidents, 7% more engaged customers and 12% higher profit.
In short, people with best friends at work are more stable, less likely to look for another job, more likely to take risks that lead to innovation and are generally more positive.
This makes sense as one of the foundations of any friendship is trust. Having that level of trust with your co-workers allows you to focus more on results and less on consequences.
An O.C Tanner study showed that those with friends at work are more satisfied with their jobs and are more likely to take on any challenge. This certainly seems to apply to Millennials.
This all makes sense, right. We are happier when we belong to a group, when we are surrounded by people we like and are in an environment that makes us feel safe and connected.
The follow-up question is: what should companies do about this? Certainly, you cannot make anyone become friends. However, you can foster an environment of open communication, encourage collaboration and create a positive atmosphere.
Regular work-sponsored social gatherings can also allow people to “get acquainted” in a less structured setting.
In the end, every business is only as good as the people who work there. And, it seems that happy people are better workers and having friends to hang with eight hours a day is a recipe for happiness.
What experiences have you had with friendships at work? Please share in the comment section below.