It’s no secret that organizations with strong corporate cultures attract top talent and experience lower turnover. While there are a lot of moving parts to nurture said cultures, they’re commonly described by feelings of trust, belonging, and inclusion—specifically in the ways people interact, relate, and communicate. This makes sense, too, since belonging is a fundamental human need—even in the workplace.
We can almost always credit poor or diminishing company cultures to either toxic or nonexistent relationships between managers, leaders, and co-workers. Yet, it’s often leadership who peg work friendships as crippling to productivity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Not only are work friendships critical to happiness and well-being, but they’re one of the strongest predictors of productivity and play a pivotal role in retention and employee engagement.
So, what is it about our work friends that make us so productive?
Work friendships fuel productivity and engagement
Happy teams are productive teams, and social interactions are a huge motivator for us. A study by Officevibe found that 70% of employees say that having friends at work is the most critical piece to happy working life. Think about it: we spend a third of our lives at the office, and whether we realize it or not, we turn to co-workers to satisfy our intrinsic drive to build meaningful relationships. In the absence of this avenue, we’re left feeling disengaged from our work.
In fact, employees without close work friends have only a 1 in 12 chance of being engaged. Conversely, people with work friends are seven times more likely to produce greater quality work and are more productive and engaged. Even mindless chit chat can be linked to gains in production, according to one MIT study. Naturally, this boost in quality and performance have long-term payoffs: organizations that encourage and embrace these relationships can realize 12% higher profits.
Beyond productivity and engagement, research shows that thriving social well-being in the office can actually prevent voluntary attrition.
Social connections influence retention
The latest Global Work Connectivity study found that 60% of workers would be more loyal to their employer if they had more friends at the office. This is especially true for women: women who have a best friend at work are less likely to actively job hunt or keep an eye out for new opportunities.
Udemy’s 2018 Employee Experience Report revealed that nearly half of employees said they’d quit because of a bad manager. A separate survey focused on employee loyalty discovered that 45% of new hires applied for a new role after a bad day at work. This begs the question: would strong working relationships have made a difference?
“One of the most important things to have in the workplace is a close relationship,” Comparably CEO Jason Nazar tells CNBC Make It. Our work friends support and empower us to keep our heads above water when the ongoing pressures of work get the best of us. “Having someone there to go through the good times and the bad experiences with you is invaluable,” Nazar continues.
At the end of the day, organizations that encourage and create opportunities to build meaningful relationships at work are the ones with the strongest culture and have a more productive and engaged workforce. Albeit, business leaders should still be cognizant of establishing professional boundaries and pay attention to performance metrics, but the value in these friendships is indisputable.
Not sure how to bring your people together? At Scoop, we partner with organizations to implement an impactful commute solution that brings co-workers together, increases productivity and engagement, and reduces the risk of employee turnover.