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Having a Work Friend is Good for your Career

Having a Work Friend is Good for your Career

Do you have a friend at work? You may recognize the question from employee engagement surveys. You may even know that having a friend at work can make you happier and lead to more collaboration, creativity and productivity, all of which can help you in your job. But at a time when many of us are working from home if not entirely then at least a few days a week, it may not be as easy to have a friend at work as it was when we were all in the office every day.

A work friend may help you with your career. According to a recent article on LinkedIn, having a friend at work provides a greater sense of well-being, a contributing factor to greater job satisfaction, higher engagement, and higher-quality of work. The author shares that her friends have a tremendous impact on her career, by supporting and advocating for her, providing much-needed perspective during challenging times, and sharing constructive criticism when others won’t.

A friend can also play a crucial role as workplaces navigate changes, uncertainty and new ways of working. Friends can keep one another informed and work together to familiarize themselves with new technologies and processes.

A work friend may be good for your company too. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and University of Minnesota confirm that close friendships increase workplace productivity. Friends are more committed, communicate better, and encourage each other. And according to a global study by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP), “Interpersonal work relationships have a sizeable and significant positive effect on the job satisfaction of the average employee.”

Employees who have a best friend at work are significantly more likely to:

  • Engage customers and internal partners
  • Get more done in less time
  • Support a safe workplace with fewer accidents and reliability concerns
  • Innovate and share ideas

Recent Gallup data show that having a best friend at work has become even more important since the start of the pandemic and the increase in remote and hybrid work.

Many companies face significant challenges supporting connections and friendships among a physically distant workforce. In the U.S., just two in 10 employees report having a best friend at work. An employee without a best friend at work becomes much more isolated working from home. And because they lack collaboration and a sense of responsibility to a best friend at work, their performance may dip too.

How to Be a Friend at Work

One way that Genesis10 is working to support connections and relationships among our internal staff is through employee resource groups (ERG). Recently, our women’s ERG, which provides opportunity for participating employees to share experiences that help grow their career by learning from one another, invited author and coach Ingra Green to speak on “Embracing Vulnerability as a Strength.”

Green’s talk helped us shed misconceptions about vulnerability – the thinking that opening up to others at work can be viewed by others as a weakness. It’s not! Being vulnerable can lead to stronger connection with your co-workers, maybe even friendship, even when we work remotely.

Simply put, vulnerability is simply the ability to relate to one another, to express or expose your true thoughts with boundaries in a professional setting.

The benefits (for you) of making a connection or friend by allowing yourself to be vulnerable at work include increased job satisfaction and engagement, improved mental health and well being, enhanced creativity and innovation. Benefits (for your company) include higher employee retention, improved team dynamics and collaboration, greater employee engagement and productivity.

“I want everyone to be open to the thinking that although we are in the workplace, we are able to relate to one another, person to person, and in that there is great value,” she said.

In world of remote work, it may be more challenging to be a friend at work, but it’s worth it. As Green said, “we just have to be much more intentional about staying connected to one another.”