They say you can’t choose your family, but you can choose your friends. And, like anything in life, work is made so much better when you have a great friend with you. In fact, it turns out that having a friend at work isn’t just great for your personal and psychological well-being, it’s actually great for business as well.
Whether a department or company is looking to maintain high morale and employee retention, or looking for creative ideas to increase customer satisfaction, a corporate culture that fosters strong professional relationships amongst colleagues is one that is ahead of the curve. Here’s how having a best friend a work is beneficial for the employee, the culture, and bottom line of the company.
Work Friendships Lead to Increased Productivity
When you think about your workplace bestie, you’re likely thinking about one or two people with whom you take frequent coffee breaks throughout the day. Or, the ones you coordinate costumes with for the office Halloween party – red and yellow M&Ms, anyone? Traditionally, these kinds of interactions were once considered a distraction, but, it turns out that work friendships are actually one of the strongest predictors of productivity.
Studies show that employees that have a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, and more loyal to their organizations. They call in sick less often, have fewer workplace accidents, and transition between jobs less frequently. What’s more, call centers who have work besties often experience more satisfied customers!
A joint study out of the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota found, compared to simply having acquaintances at work, work friends outperformed on most tasks. Friends who worked together on a task exhibited greater commitment to the project, showed better communication during the activity, and offered their partner or teammates more positive encouragement along the way.
Work Friends Lead to a Good Kind of Peer Pressure
You know you’re really good friends when the other person isn’t shy to tell you when you’ve messed up. In that sense, having a call center bestie also means having added social pressure to do a good job at work. This positive form of peer pressure is great for any department or company looking to boost customer service satisfaction or ratings, retain customers and staff, and overall improves their company culture. The impression or opinion of a call center work friend has been shown to hold more value to an individual employee than their direct manager or boss.
Also, when coworkers are friends, this suddenly makes quitting or moving on much harder, which leads to greater company loyalty and employee retention. Personally, the strength of my workplace friendships has been the fondest aspect of any job I’ve had. It’s often the strongest determinant of whether or not I remain at a job, or consider moving on.
A Work “Frenemy” is Counterproductive
The hard truth to any job is that there’s always a high chance that you may have to work with a difficult colleague. Whether that’s a supervisor, manager, or even a peer. In fact, these difficult co-workers or managers are actually one of the leading factors of counterproductivity in the workplace. Psychologists call it process loss, technically defined as “wasted energy and loss of productivity caused by interpersonal difficulties.”
Whether it’s the occasional miscommunication, or more seriously, unresolved tension or full-on battles, these negative relationships and interactions are powerful forces of distraction, depression, and lead to a negative moral across a whole team or department.
How to Make a Work Best Friend?
If having a bestie at your call center or customer service job is great for morale, productivity, and overall company culture, what happens if you don’t have a strong friendship at your workplace? Well, luckily researchers have identified a few key ways that individuals can build friendships at work.
Proximity – If you work nearby a particular colleague with who you’re able to share a positive rapport for at least one year, studies indicate that you’re far more likely to become work friends with that person than someone who sits on the other side of the floor as you. This makes intuitive sense, because you’re far more likely to engage in casual conversations with this person.
Non-Work Conversations – Stemming from proximity, you’re far more likely to engage in casual, non-work related conversations with people who you may consider your work besties. The more you engage in casual personal exchanges, the closer friends you’ll become because you’ll identify similarities and shared interests with one another.
Self-Disclosure – Psychologists have long-identified that being open, vulnerable, and sharing your personal feelings and thoughts are characteristics that lead to increased intimacy in romantic relationships. To a lesser extent, the same principle applies for workplace friendships. The more you comfortably share about your personal life, such as things about your marriage, family, social life, and so on, the closer you’ll become with other colleagues who do the same.
Having friends in your life outside of work is great, but having a friend that you genuinely care about and enjoying working with at your call center job is even better. Strong, positive workplace friendships help make your job, and your life, more productive and happier.