Everyone has different types of friends; each kind of friend plays a different role in your life. There are friends you have fun with, those who give great advice, those who support you, those who push you to be the best version of yourself, and more. Some friends perform several of these roles. The same can be true of friends at work.
Some might be people you occasionally get a drink with, while others you chat with daily and even keep posted about your most significant personal accomplishments and struggles.
In this blog, we will be exploring the many benefits of having a friends at work, and how something as simple as friendship can benefit you, your team and your company.
The Science of Having Friends at Work
Many surveys show that employee engagement at work is at an all-time low. One way of improving the engagement level at work is to cultivate friendships in the workplace. The benefits of having friends at work infiltrate every facet of life as the line between work-life and personal-life blur.
Research shows that workers are happier in jobs when they are friends with their co-workers. Employees have reported having a more fun, enjoyable, worthwhile, and satisfying experience at work when they have cultivated friendships in the workplace. Gallup found that having close work friendships can boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent, and those employees are seven times more likely to fully engage in their work.
The Benefits of Having Friends at Work
Having friends at work can result in an overall increase in productivity, job satisfaction, purpose, and loyalty to the organization. In this section below, we will break down how this works.
Make You More Creative and Productive
When friendships are cultivated in the workplace, they can transform everyday casual, friendly banter and talks into innovative discussions about ways to improve both the team and the organization to better thrive and grow. Friendly interactions open up spaces for people to be creative, experimental and collaborative.
Open Doors and Carve Paths
Your colleagues can be valuable professional resources, beyond just assisting with assigned tasks when you’re in a pinch. A coworker can be a resource for professional development or networking events, making an introduction, or helping promote your work in the office, on social media or by word of mouth. All of this can help you gain the skills and exposure needed to take the next step in your career.
Stick Up For You
In group settings such as meetings or conferences, work friends can play an exceptionally critical role. As an individual, you can sometimes feel outnumbered or intimidated if someone talks over you in a meeting or dismisses your ideas. Or you may feel helpless to advocate for yourself if a manager insists that a short deadline is reasonable and no one else seems dubious.
A work friend can be your teammate or advocate in situations like these. They can even use amplification tactics, often used by Women aides in former President Barack Obama’s White House, to bolster and intensify your thoughts, ideas or concerns.
Hold You Accountable
When setting any type of goal for your job or career, having a friend at work can assist you in achieving them. Simply telling someone your goals can provide that accountability that pushes you to succeed. Having that friend to give you that gentle nudge as the opportunity arises for you to achieve your goal can make all the difference between dreams and accomplishments.
Provide a Sounding Board
Having someone to empathize with you can help you to feel heard and raise your mood in the workplace. When you feel stressed at work, the ability to vent to someone can help. Allowing negative emotions to stay bottled up can be detrimental to your health physically, emotionally, and mentally, according to Psychology Today. Talking through your feelings with a friend can restore your ability to think logically, and determine a course of action to tackle the challenges plaguing you.
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How Having Friends at Work Can Help Your Team
Whether it’s an actual best friend or a heightened feeling of connection, vulnerability or authenticity in your work circles, the presence of these things can provide benefits to your team as a whole.
Employees who are friends and friendly with their coworkers are more likely to be engaged in the work they are doing for their company. Gallup found engaged employees make it a point to show up to work and do more work — “highly engaged business units realize a 41% reduction in absenteeism and a 17% increase in productivity.”
Increasing connection between employees can help to make an entire team more accountable to its work, goals and objectives.
Dispel Tension and Conflict
There is nothing like being burdened with the sometimes drama and politics that can accompany work. But having no one who understands or empathizes can be isolating. A work friend can be invaluable as a sounding board for issues, offering encouragement and understanding or dispelling incorrect notions for a colleague.
Many of us find it difficult to compartmentalize our work lives. We struggle to leave the stress behind and to stop thinking about work once we’re at home. Having a work friend can mean working on or resolving issues during the workday, allowing us to be free to enjoy our time outside of work without allowing challenges and stressors to carry over.
This can reduce tensions within teams, and allow people to discuss more honestly how they’re feeling or reacting to projects or direction from management. Breaking down tensions sooner rather than later helps teams to get back to the work at hand, rather than stewing on issues that can build up and distract later down the road.
Increase Customer-Focused Outcomes
Having friends at work can improve the overall product or solution a company puts out. By being connected and engaged, “workers care more about the products and services they deliver to customers and the overall performance of their organization.”
This can lead to improvements in customer satisfaction and profitability over time.
When you enjoy your work, you’re more likely to take care and concern for the product you’re putting out in the world. This can build a better customer experience overall.
Friends at work can be a source of joy and encouragement. They can help us to deal with the ups and downs of the office, and even help us to be our best. A best friend at work will cause us to look forward to coming to work and is an incitement for workplace engagement. These types of relationships build meaning and purpose into workplaces, elevating the quality of work and the quality of life.