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You likely remember your first work friend. They showed you the ropes and helped you navigate office politics. Today, research shows that work best friends are not just nice to have, but also play an essential role in employee engagement and retention.
Fostering a buddy-friendly environment can reap benefits in many ways.
Increased job satisfaction.
Friendships contribute to employee well-being and fulfillment. A 2019 PwC study showed that friendships increased worker satisfaction by 50%. Studies also show that happy employees are more productive.
Employees with friends at work are less likely to look for new jobs. They feel a sense of belonging that may deter them from looking elsewhere (even during the Great Resignation).
Improved skill building.
Employees may be more comfortable asking a friend for help or understanding. This is especially helpful in a remote environment where shadowing or observation may not be possible. Work friends are a wealth of information. They function as an additional knowledge transfer outside of formal training.
Work friends offer a unique perspective. They comprehend the intricacies of your work environment that friends or family may not understand. Peer coaching naturally occurs between friends, enabling employees to reflect on their career journeys and problem-solve.
The 2022 Workforce Purpose Index reported that almost half of the employees surveyed found it difficult to make friends at work. As a leader and HR partner, you can play a role in encouraging friendships on the job. First, take a sincere interest in getting to know your employees. Pair new hires with experienced staff who may offer a different vantage point. Dedicate a part of regular meetings to topics other than work. These small interactions contribute to making work fun and may cement new friendships.