For those of us lucky enough to have great friends at work, it’s obvious that these friendships help to sustain us - eight hours a day, five days a week. Our work friends keep us looking forward to going into the office in the morning, allow us to de-stress when things pile up, and can relate to our day-to-day lives better than anyone else (case in point: who other than another Parkable employee will ever appreciate a parking pun?).
They also keep us engaged and motivated, and create another reason to stay with our current job. Despite the clear benefits, all too often business leaders think of workplace friendships as a distraction or a barrier to productivity. Well, here’s a bunch of research that shows that work friendships should be valued and encouraged by managers just as much as they are by the rest of us.
Surprisingly, the single biggest predictor of workplace productivity and engagement is not what we’re doing, but who we’re working with. When we feel close to our team members, we’re uniquely motivated to take actions that benefit the business and lead to innovation.
According to research by Gallup, those with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged with their jobs. Plus, having a work best friend is correlated with producing higher quality work and being better at engaging customers. On the (rather shocking) flipside, people without close work friends have only an 8 percent chance of being engaged - and with 80 percent of people saying that they don’t have a best friend at work, that’s a big gap in engagement.
The good news is that this gap can be filled if managers worry less about the chit chat in the kitchen, and more about how to nurture better relationships. The bonus? By shifting the percentage of people with work best friends from 20 percent to 60 percent, companies can achieve a 12% increase in profits.
There’s a lot of data supporting the fact that when we have friends at work, we’re less likely to leave a job.
Part of this is because our work friends help us to get through challenges that would otherwise prompt us to seek new job opportunities, like hard days and bad managers. However, it’s also because feeling connected to others is a fundamental human need, and once we’ve made those connections, we want to keep them close.
Work friends make the third of our lives spent at the office far more enjoyable, and that’s nothing for business leaders to fear. In fact, employers that encourage and nurture meaningful relationships at work are adding huge social value to their employees lives, as well as benefiting their business’s bottom line.
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