Why best friends at work are important

New research has shown that employees who develop strong bonds with their colleagues are beneficial not only for themselves but also for their company.

Global workplace consulting and research organization Gallup has revealed that best friends in the workplace are essential to individual and collective professional success, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group’s data indicated how the increase in remote and hybrid work arrangements, born to combat the rising rates of COVID-19 infections, in addition to the traumatic experiences and other profound difficulties that the pandemic has created around the world, have extrapolated the need for best friends in the workplace.

This is because such relationships foster non-judgmental encouragement and support during problematic times, while other employees pushed into hybrid or virtual work arrangements have reported that close friends at work help them stay informed. , responsible and connected for a foreign period.

For example, employees are able to ask their “best friend” “dumb” questions about changes to business operations without fear of embarrassment, underscoring the simple yet effective nature of these relationships.

Gallup data revealed that employees who have a best friend at work are much more likely to:

  • Engage customers and internal partners
  • Do more in less time
  • Support a safe workplace with fewer accidents and reliability issues
  • Innovate and share ideas
  • Have fun at work

Companies with higher employee engagement reported a 10% increase in customer loyalty/engagement, a 23% increase in profitability, and an 18% increase in productivity (sales) , while recounting an 81% drop in absenteeism and a 41% drop. decrease in quality (defects) among others.

Additionally, since the onset of the pandemic, “there is an even stronger relationship between having a best friend at work and important outcomes such as an employee’s likelihood to recommend their workplace, intention to leave and their overall satisfaction with their workplace”.

Employees with a best friend at work are twice as likely to recommend their company as a nice place to work and report being satisfied at work, while also being less likely to actively seek other job opportunities.

Gallup explained that “best friends at work determine results because they are more than a social bond or a good relationship. A best friend at work is someone you can count on through thick and thin.

“These genuine friendships strengthen employees’ sense of belonging to their work and enable employees to be more effective and sustainable no matter where and when they work,” he said.

They also “played a crucial role in managing change, uncertainty and new ways of working”.

However, despite the overwhelming evidence that supports close friendships at work, only 20% of employees in the United States believe they have a best friend at work.

According to Gallup, there are three clear and effective strategies that can be used to promote best friends at work, whether in-person, remote or hybrid work arrangements are in effect.

Leaders acting with intentionality—meaning being deliberate and purposeful—in celebrating and championing best friends at work trickle down to the rest of the employee base who learn “standards of behavior and cues.” of their managers and leaders and they need the “OK” of leaders to develop friendships at work”.

The key to forming these relationships is devoting time to relationships with co-workers. Gallup urges employers not to “wait for others to knock; look for ways to partner with them and support them”.

Another strategy employers can deploy is to ask the question, “Do employees have the time, opportunity, and permission to spontaneously bond?” »

“Team structures, workflows, and other systems and practices can make or break employees’ ability to develop meaningful friendships at work,” Gallup explained. “Leaders need to assess how factors like performance expectations and time demands support (or hinder) having best friends at work.

“Equally important, managers have a responsibility to foster a local team atmosphere that encourages trust and collaboration. Whenever possible, managers should remove constraints on socializing and create an atmosphere in which employees feel free and encouraged to connect and show support. »

By continuously engaging in conversations with employees, managers and leaders can lay the groundwork for workplace relationships to be fostered and sustained, which ties into the final strategy described by Gallup – communicate often and “ create a culture where friendly dialogue is the norm”.

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