by Dora Wang on Jan 19, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Are your employees friends with each other? You might not have thought about this question before, but it’s actually one that can have significant impact on your organization. Work friendships help make employees more engaged and more innovative—and they need you to help make that happen.

Friendships Are Serious Business

Employees who have friends at work report a higher level of engagement, and the more friends the better. Take a look at the amount of employees who are “highly engaged”:

  • 28% of employees with 0 work friends
  • 37% of employees with 1–5 work friends
  • 48% of employees with 6–25 friends
  • 69% of employees with 25 or more friends

What are the reasons behind this trend? Certainly having friends at the workplace makes people happier on a daily basis. But employee engagement isn’t won through socializing.

A social psychology study showed that group performance is affected by relationships. Teams made up of friends did better on tasks than teams made up of acquaintances because they had more group commitment and cooperation. And TINYpulse research tells us that camaraderie motivates people to work harder. So the stronger the relationships between your employees, the better their collaboration and dedication on the job.

Why Bosses Should Get Involved

While you can’t force your employees to become buddies, don’t assume this means managers don’t have a role to play. In fact, when it comes to the benefits that friendships provide to the workplace, supervisors should get involved with their employees.

The Gallup Management Journal looked at the connection between work friendships and employees’ engagement and innovation. They asked respondents if their company “is committed to building the strengths of each employee”:

  • 75% of those who agreed say they have a friend at work whom they share new ideas with
  • if they agreed and are also highly engaged, the number jumps to 83%
  • if they disagreed, the number drops to 38%

They also looked at the role of management, asking respondents if their supervisor “focuses on their strengths or positive characteristics”:

  • about two-thirds of those who agreed say they have a friend at work whom they share new ideas with
  • if they agreed and are also highly engaged, the amount jumps to 79%
  • if they disagreed, the amount drops to about one-third

Coworkers can strike up friendships on their own, but it’s clear that having support from their organization makes a difference. When both management and the company as a whole support their employees, creative collaboration flourishes. These relationships boost employee engagement, and your company wins more teamwork and innovation.


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