The Importance of Work Friends: Why You Want Your Workers to Buddy Up

In the battle to find and keep talent, organizations often overlook one crucial detail - friendship.

According to a recent Gallup poll, having a work bestie makes employees more productive, more engaged, and more likely to stick around. People spend most of their time at work, and having someone to share a joke with, boost their mood, or provide support when things get tough goes a long way to improving employee wellbeing. While these bonds developed organically in the past, today they can be more difficult to form. 

As offices switch to remote and hybrid work schedules, office friendships need some help to develop. Managers have to learn to navigate the challenges of our disconnected age to successfully nurture close bonds among their team.   

Friendships Improve Employee Engagement and Productivity

Only two in ten American workers report having a close friend at work. That’s bad news for employees and their companies. Why? Because work buddies are a bit like gym buddies. They help motivate you, help you overcome challenges, and push you to perform.

Studies show that employees with work friendships perform significantly better and demonstrate better decision-making than those who consider their colleagues acquaintances. When your employees have friends, they feel happy at work and that makes them an advocate for your company. Workers that have great experiences and openly share those experiences are especially useful when you’re looking to fill skills gaps.

Of those who report having an office buddy, 44% say they would recommend their organization as a great place to work.They’re also less likely to leave. According to Gallup’s survey, 49% of those who don’t have a friend at work are searching for another job, compared to just 37% of those who do.

Overcoming Isolation

Like all relationships, there has to be some chemistry between work friends, and that’s not something managers can readily create. Especially when dealing with remote teams. But they can help it along.

Anyone leading a remote team has to work harder to build connections among their employees. Encouraging consistent communication is a good first step, but there are other actions managers can take.  

1. Arrange in-person meetings where possible

Encourage remote workers living in the same areas to socialize together on a regular basis. This could mean monthly meet-ups, grabbing a coffee together, or attending a specific event. You could also schedule formal quarterly meetings offsite or offer employees experiences that encourage bonding like corporate retreats or adventure days.

2. Get personal

While you don’t want to invade your employee’s privacy or make them uncomfortable, friendships aren’t built on small talk. Your employees need to feel comfortable enough to share a part of their personal lives with colleagues. And that starts with creating a supportive, empathetic culture. Managers should model a leadership style that encourages honesty and authenticity. Some models to consider are servant leadership, people-centric management, or radical candor as a way of leading by example.

3. Create a support network

Finding a work bestie can be intimidating for new hires or junior staff, so sometimes, it’s necessary for managers to play matchmaker. Set up a mentoring program or buddy system for anyone who’s struggling. This helps engage them by getting them to meet with an established colleague on a regular basis for casual check-ins. These get-togethers help lonely employees make long-term connections and feel more settled.

How Prodoscore’s Social Network Can Help

Employee productivity tracker Prodoscore offers an innovative way to visualize connections between teams. The Social Network tool, an Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) solution, gives managers insights into how employees are communicating and connecting, based on their chat interactions. 

Social Network eliminates any guesswork, giving managers the information they need to craft effective policies and practices around employee engagement. By identifying which employees are most disconnected, team leaders can act swiftly to address concerns, prevent burnout, and encourage better collaboration. To schedule a demonstration or find out more, contact our team today.

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