From your after-work beer buddies to those confidantes you can rely on, having allies at work does wonders for morale.
But can having a workplace bestie stop you from bringing your A-game? Let’s look at the pros and cons of friendships in the workplace and how to stop mate-related performance pitfalls.
The benefits of forging friendships at work
It’s official. Having a network of good friends at work is good for you. According to Wildgoose’s 2021 Workplace Friendship & Happiness Survey, 57% of employees said having a best friend in the workplace makes work more enjoyable, 22% feel more productive with friends, and 21% say friendship makes them more creative.
These findings are supported by Gallup’s research which found that those who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with those who say otherwise (29%).
That’s not all, workplace mates make you more likely to stick around in your role. The same Wildgoose survey reported that 19% of employees said they’re more likely to stay at a company when they have colleague friendships.
Believe it or not, a best bud at work can also make you work more safely, which is great for site workers. Gallup’s research found that when 60% of employees in a company have a work best friend, safety incidents dropped by 36%.
The problems with forging friendships at work – and how to avoid them
The benefits of befriending colleagues are undeniable in building trust, increasing collaboration and improving job satisfaction. Though there are times and places when boundaries can be applied to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Distractions and safety
The uplifting power of hilarious on-site banter can get you through the day, though when taken too far, it can become distracting. If you’re super-tight with your crew, your workflow may be interrupted too often, and opportunities for accidents arise. Enjoy your chit-chat while being mindful of the task at hand.
Talking about colleagues behind their back, creating cliques, excluding others can put you in the unprofessional zone. Your leaders may not see you and your mates as inclusive which is an expectation of workplaces today. Further, if you and your mates start talking negatively about the organisation, misery breeds company and it can create a toxic environment.
And, don’t even think about approaching your boss as a ‘united front’ with your bestie as that will be seen as ganging up on authority which is unlikely to be viewed favourably.
Does your company encourage competition? Are your co-workers eyeing that same promotion? If so, when you are close friends with them, it may become more problematic if one of you gets that bonus or leg-up that the other doesn’t. If you work in a competitive company culture or have ruthlessly ambitious colleagues, it may be best to chat to your workmates about how to handle these situations if they arise.
Being taken advantage of
If you’re a super-happy person who loves befriending others at work, this is a great thing. It can mean, however, that you’re at risk of being taken advantage of. Maybe colleagues could dump their duties on you, perhaps you don’t reveal your true potential, or others may even take credit for your work. When entering a new role, be warm and friendly yet not overly agreeable that you’re walked over.
Never switching off
When your colleagues become part of your main social network, the danger is that even when out on the town or playing footie, talk is always about the job. You need to be able to switch off and forget about work otherwise, it’ll zap all your energy. Make a pact to keep work talk to a minimum out of hours and maintain a balance of non-co-worker friends too.
If you are open to new opportunities, contact a recruitment agency like Trojan Recruitment Group and receive advice from the experts in labour-hire, permanent and contract staff.