It’s been the rally cry of the corporate world for over a decade.
Don’t get too chummy with your colleagues, especially your boss.
HR policies lay out strict guidelines about friendships and romances not only between workmates, but among bosses and subordinates.
It’s all pretty well accepted these days and, while I understand the need to satisfy certain legal requirements, some interesting research over the last few years reveals a dark underbelly to the practice of limiting work-based friendships.
- People who have a “best friend” at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their work. They also have fewer accidents, more engaged customers, and are more likely to innovate and share new ideas.
- Although most companies don’t encourage, and some outright forbid, close relationships between workers, Gallup research shows that close friendships at work boosts employee satisfaction by almost 50%.
- People with at least three close friends at work were 46% more likely to be extremely satisfied with their job and 88% more likely to be satisfied with their life.
- Spending time with your boss was rated as the least pleasurable time of the day. However, when employees do have close friendships with their boss, they are more than twice as likely to be satisfied with their jobs.
- The watercooler effect: You are three times as likely to have a close-knit workgroup if physical environment makes it easy to socialize. Unfortunately, only one-third of the people we studied report working in such an environment.
All of this begs the question, “if friendships make work so much better, why limit them?” The answer, from my experience, has been twofold.
One, there is a fear that friction in a personal relationship could translate to trouble, loss of morale or inefficiency in the workplace.
Two, specifically with regard to relationships between workers and their immediate supervisors, there is a concern that the relationship could lean toward either favoritism or hostility, either of which becomes a challenge not just for HR, but for the legal people as well.
Because of this, at least in the U.S., policies have grown up to err on the side of caution (f anyone out there is in HR, please feel free to chime in an correct me or add any thoughts you might have). So, I am curious…
What do you guys think about friends on the job?
Do you have really good friends at work? Does this make you enjoy your job more? Does it ever get in the way? And, I’m most curious about close friendships with bosses. Anybody out there buddies with their bosses? Any bosses buddies (or more) with people they manage? How does it work?
As always, chime in and share your voice…
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