By Manasi Bharati, Content Consultant
Do you ever feel that you should have had your best friend with you when something happens at work and you want to share it right away? Do you feel like there should have been a person to understand you? Yes, many of us have! But don’t worry if you and your bestie don’t work together; you can always make a new bestie at your workplace. 30% of people have at least one best friend at work. As per Gallup (2010), 1/3rd of Americans have met one of their best friends at work. 65% of employees maintain a close friendship at work (Business News, 2020). So yes, workplace besties do exist. Or at least close work friends do exist. Let’s take a look at why you should have a workplace bestie.
Marissa King of the Yale School of Management says,
“We get our sense of purpose and our intrinsic sense of motivation through relationships” (Axios, 2021).
The basic human need for friendship offers a sense of belonging, purpose, confidence and satisfaction. To have this kind of support at the workplace means that you will feel wanted, be motivated, enthusiastic and content. By creating such a community for yourself at the workplace, you are ensuring your own satisfaction and happiness. Workplace friendships have been proven to have a positive impact on the long-term happiness of individuals (CNBC, 2018). In a study by author and researcher Tom Rath, 96% of the people with close work friends say that they are “extremely satisfied with life.” Psychologists say and research supports the fact that having close workplace friends can:
– encourage you to go to office regularly and discourage you from quitting
– motivate you to perform better and allow you to engage more with your tasks
– boost your creativity by exposing you to new ideas
– build a healthy way to vent or solve work problems
– reduce negative experiences at work such as worry, stress and feeling tired
– enhance positive experiences at work such as feeling satisfied, making progress and celebrating success
– make you feel valued, strong and wanted
Several research studies have repeatedly established a concrete link between having a best friend at work and the amount of effort employees expend in their job. Some say that the social aspect of friendship is a major reason for which they actually come to work. A study by Gallup (2010) reported that women having a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared to those who don’t have a bestie at work (29%). Having a close friend at work can make you seven times as likely to be engaged in work, engage customers, produce higher quality work, have higher well-being, and less likely to get injured on the job.
However, this support may not always be easily available at the workplace. In fact, a study reported that more than two-thirds of the people surveyed would stay in their job if they had friends. Those who didn’t have any workplace friends reported feeling lonely and disengaged in their work. Without a best friend, the chance of you being engaged in work is just 1 out of 12 as per Gallup’s report.
Erin Church, a compliance specialist at CBRE, California says,
“I don’t think I’d be closing in on a 10-year work anniversary if it wasn’t for the work friends I made when I started. They made me want to go to work and were essential in getting through tough days. Thankfully, most of those relationships have bleed into my personal life and I’m so grateful for our continued friendships.” (LinkedIn, 2021).
The biggest advantage of having a bestie at work, in addition to the scientific evidence, is that they can understand the challenges of your work. Since you are in the same workplace and know the same people and procedures, it becomes easier to talk about the problems that you are facing and to resolve the issues. Your best friend will always be there to help you and support you, and make you want to go to work. The wording also matters! Research indicates that having a “best friend” at work is a more stronger predictor of workplace outcomes than simply having a “friend” or even a “good friend.”
Such a support system at the workplace especially when you don’t see each other physically in the new era of working from home culture, being able to control who our work friends and confidants are can be a big source of comfort. The usual encounters in the office during lunch or coffee breaks are no longer an option to catch up with workplace friends and an active effort needs to be made on that front. Mavis Burks Hollis of Capital One (LinkedIn, 2021) says,
“It is easy to forget about making time to nurture our connections in a WFH and virtual world. My take-away is to be intentional and continue making time for work friends even if it is over Zoom or Slack.”
You can take active efforts to connect with somebody at work by:
– promoting and having open communication with peers
– collaborating with different teams and people at work
– encouraging people to get to know one another
– promoting and participating in social activities
– taking your time to build relationships
Workplace besties allow you to stay close to the broader mission of your organisation as well as your personal goals by keeping you motivated to go to work every day. Some workplace experts do warn of over-sharing with somebody at work and harming the office morale (Yahoo Finance, 2019), but this can be counterbalanced with building trust and maintaining your own boundaries at the workplace. It is important to foster friendships at work—not for mixing business with pleasure, but for mixing business with healthy relationships. So why shouldn’t you have a close friend at work when it is such a crucial factor of a happy working life? Go right now, take efforts and connect with somebody at your office to be your workplace bestie and see the impact it makes on you and your performance.
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Rath, T. & Harter, J. “Your Friends and Your Social Well-Being”, August 2010, Business Journal, Gallup. Retrieved from https://news.gallup.com/businessjournal/127043/friends-social-wellbeing.aspx
Mann, A. “Why We Need Best Friends at Work”, January 2018, Workplace, Gallup. Retrieved from https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236213/why-need-best-friends-work.aspx
Fike, M. “Workplace ‘besties’ are a must”, February 2021, LinkedIn News. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/news/story/workplace-besties-are-a-must-4319777/
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