Should people have a (best) friend at work?


“Do you have a friend at work?” Believe it or not but there are a bunch of companies who actually ask this question during their people surveys. For instance, all 40 participants in Gallup’s Q12 employee engagement assessment are the ones asking it of their people.

So companies ask their people do they have their best friend working with them. And it is not just for fun or just to gather some statistics. They actually want to know it.

Yes, of course, there are some threats connected with this when a person has a friend at work. For instance, when one of the friends leaves the company then the other one might follow him/her as well.

But despite the minor obstacles there are actually a lot of reasons why organizations should want their people to have friends at work; here are some:

  • Gallup study found that employees who report having a best friend at work were 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
  • Gallup study also found that close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to engage fully in their work.
  • O.C. Tanner’s Survey found that 72 % of employees who have a best friend at work are satisfied with their jobs, compared to 54 % of those who don’t have a best friend at work.
  • LinkedIn study reveals that 46% of people believe that friendship with co-workers makes them happier. Additionally, 18-24 years-olds found that friendship in the workplace makes them feel: happy (57%), motivated (50%) and productive (39%).

Today’s employers are facing different challenges, such as low engagement (according to this Gallup study only 13% of the workforce is engaged) and difficulties with recruitment. As you remember, happy employees are more engaged, satisfied and productive. So based on this I would conclude that when a person has a (best) friend at work then he/she would probably be more engaged, satisfied and productive.

Therefore you probably would want to (and should) contribute to your employees’ relationships. Here are five thoughts on how you can do that:

  • Use gamification methods when recruiting or training your people. Games, fun, challenges – all are things that unite people.
  • Organize after-hours team events for your people, starting from playing golf or basketball together or participating RatRace.
  • Create internal social media groups where people can share both private and work-related information. You can create a private group on Facebook or use Yammer for that.
  • Create and sponsor traditions that help to unite people. Traditions could be related to birthday celebrations, casual Fridays or national holidays.
  • Encourage peer to peer recognition. Which would mean that employees recognizing each other for their work or for helping each other?


What is your experience? What do you do in your organization to support workplace friendships?


Sources used in this post:


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