Having a workplace best friend boosts morale and productivity
It appears the power of workplace relationships could be key to keeping staff happy at work. Studies show that those who have a "workplace bestie" are more likely to be engaged in their role, which presents an opportunity for CEOs and managers to develop a stronger workplace culture that encourages bonds and relationships.
Debunking a key myth surrounding workplace relationships
Many CEOs and managers still find it hard to believe workplace relationships are totally positive.
After all, employees taking time out to chat informally with colleagues would surely have a negative impact on productivity, right? Some CEO's certainly think so, and they're frowning at the idea of general chit chat or taking shared lunch breaks that spark informal conversations.
This allows a somewhat negative culture to develop, whereby too many staff are not truly engaging with their colleagues. They're on speaking terms in a professional sense, sure, but at the same time not really classing anyone as a genuine friend.
This needs to change.
Having a workplace best friend is more desired more than you think
To explore this in greater detail, we're going to use a recent study from Gallup which asked several staff whether they had a best friend at work. It sparked a big debate but uncovered clear benefits for those who said they did.
We can see a noticeable improvement in performance for a start. Gallup's research shows that those who have a best friend at work are twice as engaged in their role than those who don't, with comparative figures of 63 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.
You then don't need any additional statistics to consider the possible reasons for this. Humans are naturally sociable, and we like to interact with those around us. Close relationships make us happy, which can spark motivation.
We now live in an era where job satisfaction extends further than our salary. When debating over the prospect of a new job, and when considering whether we should remain in an existing one, we look at other aspects. These include happiness, travel, and employee perks among others.
Also, now more than ever, workplace wellness and mental wellness is a priority.
All this falls under the culture of an organisation. As we spend more time in the workplace than we do in our homes, it is only natural that we want to feel as though we belong in our place of work. In the absence of workplace relationships, this environment can feel pretty isolating.
Gallup say that the problem is so big that it simply had to feature in their recent employee engagement survey. They found that just two in 10 respondents said they had a best friend at work, but by increasing that to six, organisations could see seven per cent more engaged customers and 12 per cent higher profit.
The fact is, though, that too many businesses aren't fostering a culture that makes it easy to make connections at work.
Foster a culture that encourages workplace relationships
Organisations should be focusing on creating a culture of friendship and inclusion. Gallup have proved that meaningful connections can encourage the attraction and retention of star talent.
If this is something you agree with, then you don't want to force friendships upon your staff. Creating a culture where these can develop naturally is far more beneficial than trying to manufacture them.
Promoting open communication and collaboration is a good way to start. This can be through encouraging your team to speak up about things that are bothering them and allowing them to feel involved in meetings and key business decisions. Encouraging communication throughout the business is the first step to your team feeling comfortable around each other.
It helps to create open spaces or adopt facilities to spark this further. A lot can be said for the “water cooler conversation”, which is also relevant to other refreshment solutions such as coffee or vending machines. People are more likely to communicate in these kinds of situations.
You could also explore the idea of team-building exercises, which don't have to be restricted to the workplace.
A lot can be said for "workplace besties", then. The friendship factor influences an organisation's ability to get the most out of their workforce, so it is something you should be exploring.