Globoforce researched workplace friendships and found that 78% of those surveyed spent more time with their colleagues than their families: that’s a large social and emotional investment. Happily, they also found that 95% of the sample had made at least one friend at work. Given all the time we spend at work, good peer relationships are positive for individuals on a personal level – and essential for employee engagement.
A missed deadline is a more serious issue when it lets down a friend rather than a faceless person in a different office. We all go that legendary extra mile for our mates – making friendship a valuable asset at work.
Counting on co-workers
Recent research by Rutgers University found that work friends will approach each other for help, as they won’t feel judged for asking questions. This informal support system promotes skill sharing, prevents delays in work-flow and improves employees’ confidence in decision making.
A buddy system may be an artificial way to foster friendships, but informal mentoring does encourage colleagues to approach each other for help. Integrate new colleagues by assigning a buddy who can help them navigate their new workplace.
Opportunities to mingle
Of course, people are more likely to form friendships in less contrived situations. This is one reason it shouldn’t be optional to create breakout spaces where colleagues can relax or eat together. Inter-departmental areas widen the potential friendship pool and foster cooperative relationships.
Google’s London HQ provided rooftop allotments so co-workers could garden together. This lovely idea is not practical for most workplaces, but shared voluntary projects can bring like-minded friends together. Investigate local employee volunteering programmes (no rooftop garden required).
A culture of co-working
Colleagues with strong peer relationships are more committed to their employer: according to the Globoforce research, 79% of those with 25 or more friends wouldn’t accept a job offer elsewhere; whereas 42% of those who identified as having ‘no friends’ would take it.
Bearing this in mind, don’t fall into that old school trap of separating friends. You might think that pals on the same project will spend more time chatting than working, but it’s more likely that friends will naturally engage well together and produce quality work.
Also in this series:
- Accomplishment: 3 simple ways to provide your team with a sense of accomplishment
- Autonomy: 5 tactics for developing autonomy in your team
- Meaningful Work: 3 ways to make work more meaningful
- Growth: 4 ways you can provide your team with growth opportunities
- Recognition: 5 effective ways to acknowledge great work
- Organisational Fit: 3 tips to help you take the right approach to organisational fit
- Freedom of Opinions: 4 tips for boosting freedom of opinions in your team