Posted by: healingtheworkplace | January 17, 2009

Friendship in the Workplace

Hi and Happy New Year!

How many of you have a friend at work? Some of my closest friends are people I met in the workplace. Since we spend most of our waking hours working it makes sense to get to know the people you work with. It’s even better if you have a good relationship with them.

I have to comment on a recent episode of the sitcom The Office. The manager was summoned to the corporate office to meet with one of the senior managers.

As an aside, if you’ve ever watched The Office you’ll know that the employees all work together in a cramped, open office. They also appear to be good friends. This, of course, is encouraged by their manager and is one of the reasons that they are so productive.

Getting back to the story…unbeknownst to them they are the MOST PRODUCTIVE of all the sales teams but when the senior leader asks the manager what he is doing right he doesn’t know OR at least he can’t explain it.

What he is doing right is that he has developed strong relationships with his employees and he encourages them to be friends with each other.

Friendships at work benefit BOTH employees and employers. Employees who have a “best friend” at work are more likely to “be engaged in their work, get more done in less time, have fewer accidents and are more likely to innovate and share new ideas”.

An employees satisfaction jumps by almost 50% when he or she has a close relationship with someone at work.

Developing and maintaining these relationships is key to creating a strong, productive workgroup. How easy is this? Apparently not very…

The Gallup organization has been doing research into employee engagement since the late 1990’s. In 2004 they released the following information based on research that had been done between 2000 and 2004. Of the adults that were surveyed…

  • 29% felt engaged in their work/workplace
  • 54% did not feel engaged
  • 17% were actively disengaged

Employers, managers, leaders and supervisors certainly have a role to play in creating a workplace climate that supports the development of friendships.

Employees also have a role to play. Here are a few tips from Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen on how to be a good friend:

  1. Spend time together.
  2. Make friends a priority.
  3. Be there for the good and the bad.
  4. Don’t keep score.
  5. Notice the little stuff.
  6. Focus on the positive.

I think that in today’s uncertain economic climate it is even more critical to have a “best friend” at work or at least someone you can confide in. Apart from all the things that I mentioned above, having someone to confide in will help keep your stress in check when things look uncertain.


PS If you are still not convinced of the benefit of having a friend at work here’s an additional bonus.

If your best friend has a healthy diet you are FIVE times more likely to eat healthy yourself.


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