How to make the work culture more friendship-friendly

Friendships at work can be tricky, but studies have shown it brings many more positive outcomes than negatives to the equation. Working with a friend can boost employee engagement, job satisfaction,  productivity, and employee turnover tends to be lower in companies with a culture of trust and inclusion, two key elements of a friendship. 

As a business owner or manager, if you can create a safe and social environment that promotes friendship, collaboration, and inclusivity, you will see better results. 

Having a friend at work makes the daily experience more enjoyable, and a percentage of people even feel more productive and creative when they’re surrounded by friends. Spending time at work with a friend can help diminish the stressors and give you a different perspective when you face unexpected events. 

When you have close work friends, you can enjoy personal rewards that positively impact your career. Here are some of the top benefits of having a best friend at work: 

Employees with close work friends experience higher levels of job satisfaction. They are happier and less likely to leave the company. Those who have a best friend at work tend to be engaged in their jobs, are better at engaging customers, produce higher-quality work, have a greater sense of well-being, and are less likely to get injured on the job.

Besides, employees who report having a best friend at work have lower stress levels. People with close work friends are more confident and composed in finding solutions to their problems because they have friends supporting them.

Workplace friends reduce burnout and boost productivity, especially in monotonous work environments. Regardless of the tasks you perform, you are likely to experience workplace burnout at some point. But if you have friends at work, you are less likely to experience burnout than workers without workplace friends. Workers who aren’t experiencing burnout are more productive and happier. 

In addition to helping avoid burnout, work friends bring other positive gains, such as safety incidents decreased by 36%, customer engagement increased by 7%, and profits increased by 12%. The presence of solid work friendships can impact multiple facets of your business, so this is something you should definitely consider. 

Workplace friendships promote friendly challenges to improve. Best friends are likely to engage in friendly workplace competition when accomplishing their tasks, pushing each other to produce higher-quality work, and at the same time, they are each other’s most constructive critics. We often take criticism more positively from someone they care about.

Friendly workplaces have lower employee turnover. Employees who have a friend at work are less likely to search for other jobs, as work friendships provide a sense of work-life balance that allows employees to enjoy a social life in their workplace.

But how do you make the work culture in your company more friendship-friendly?

Starting and developing work friendships can’t be forced, but employers and management can help create an environment that is safe, social and conducive to friendship. A closer relation, with a certain connection, is what you should be looking for. 

Managers can do their part to create an inclusive environment at work that can foster friendships. By taking a genuine interest in employees’ lives, managers can create a culture that values social bonding.

These are some tips for managers who are not comfortable getting too personal with their employees to ensure their employees feel somehow connected:

  • Don’t limit conversations to email or formal meetings. Think outside the box and incorporate strategies conducive to a more social atmosphere. 
  • Set up team-building events. Opportunities for team building can boost workplace friendship potential. Designating an office breakout area where employees can share workplace meals is another way to create healthy business relationships.
  • Take an interest in your employees’ personal lives. While you may not want to give relationship advice, you should take an interest in your teammates as people. Spend a few minutes during every one-on-one meeting to connect on a personal level.
  • Congratulate, share and like. A simple gesture on social media to show employees you appreciate them can do wonders for employee morale. Think of how great it feels to get a “job well done” email from your boss, and then imagine having the same recognition shared with your network.

A core theme in these tips for creating a more social work environment is open communication. If employers and management take the time to talk to their teams, they can develop stronger connections that set a precedent for the work environment.

Get together with your team and find ways to make your office workplace more friendship-friendly. Your employees and yourself will notice the difference fairly quickly.