Workplace friendships

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A study, cited by Entrepreneur® contributor Andre Lavoie says close to half of all professionals believe work friendships make a happier workplace. Gallup® backs this finding with its discovery that close work friendships can actually boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent.

Seeing as we spend the majority of our waking hours at the office, it only makes sense that work and friendship go hand in hand. But, in some cases, workplace friendships can become toxic, creating an environment that feels more like a high school than a professional office. Keep your workplace in the drama-free zone and ensure healthy relationships with these simple tips.

  • Avoid negative cliques: An organizational culture that tolerates exclusionary cliques is at risk for distrust and even fighting among team members—both of which can end up driving away a company’s best employees. After all, who wants to work where they feel disconnected, left out and anonymous?Help break cliques and promote inclusive, team-centric behavior by assembling cross-functional teams. Reassign employees who don’t normally work together into teams, or consider pairing newbies with veteran staff. Such teamwork can work wonders by tackling projects or problems from multiple perspectives while promoting inclusivity.
  • Promote trust and camaraderie: While avoiding workplace friendships can help keep the drama meter low, a workplace culture lacking camaraderie can cause trust levels to plummet. Without trust, employees may become defensive, hide mistakes and abstain from sharing knowledge. Promote trust and teamwork with regular team-building activities—game nights, scavenger hunts and mini-golf are great ideas. Get teams excited to participate and promote healthy competition with rewards for winning teams. A logo’d Tic-Tac Towel Kit, Rubik’s® Flashlight or Golf Playing Cards make a fun prize.
  • Separate friendship and workmanship: Remember, you’re at work to work, and therefore must be able to separate your duties from your friendships. Be sure workloads are shared evenly, people remain accessible, and special treatment is given to no one. If you’re in a management role, ensure your expectations are the same for all—that means deadlines, quality of work, punctuality and more. Those who don’t perform should be subject to disciplinary action—friends or not. The same holds true for praising a job well done or acknowledging special events. Avoid favoritism by giving everyone the same rewards or recognition for similar circumstances. Perhaps a plaque for meeting sales goals or a logo’d coffee tumbler and doughnuts for birthday celebrations.

Workplace friendships are inevitable, and in fact, good for the soul. Keep yours in check by following the above tips. Your coworkers are sure to thank you.

Lavoie, Andre. “How Office Friendships Could Affect Your Bottom Line.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 14 Oct. 2014. Web. Retrieved 16 July 2015.

Riordan, Christine M. “We All Need Friends at Work.” Harvard Business Review. N.p., 03 July 2013. Web. Retrieved 16 July 2015.

Fielkow, Brian. “Treating Employees Like Pals Can Be a Dangerous Game.” Entrepreneur. N.p., 18 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 16 July 2015.

“Cliques and Exclusionary Behavior in the Workplace.” Achieve Solutions. N.p., 31 Mar. 2015. Web. Retrieved 16 July 2015.

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