#HRTECHCONF: Useful Stuff From The Hallways...

FRIENDS: How Many of Us Have Them? (At Work)

First up, who caught the Whodini reference?

Friends at work.  On my mind today based on this post by Modern Survey's Don McPherson. If you don't know about Modern Survey, go check them out.

When it comes to engagement, the question "I have a best friend at work" is a part of the G12 by Gallup.  That's kind of a big deal.  Don breaks down how a lot of us feel in a recent blog post at Modern Survey: Friends

"I have a best friend at work. That is the most disparaged survey item my industry has to offer. Gallup asks just 12 questions on their employee engagement survey and that is one of them. I’d be lying if I said I never bashed Gallup for asking this question on their survey. Being connected assists loyalty and having a friend at work makes us feel connected. I get that. What I don’t get is what the manager or organization is supposed to do about it if employees don’t have friends at work. They aren’t going to force you to make friends and they probably aren’t going to hire your poker buddy who is unqualified to work with you."

Don goes on to talk about the dog-friendly workplace at Modern Survey.  He's bragging - but damn, that sounds cool.

But back to friends at work.  I've always been the "it's not show friends, it's show business" type of guy.  But the older I get, the more I soften up.  Employees need friends at work.

What's the best way to make sure employees have friends?  You can't force it, but I think common space that's attractive, low-key event type stuff to bring people together, etc are all key.  

But there's a down side to deep friendships at work as well.  If you have deep friendships that naturally appear over time, it can be tough to integrate new people into a team.  So the smart manager understands who the superfriends in the group are, and actively engages them from an onboarding perspective to take the new guy to lunch, to include the new gal in a break at work, etc.

It's good to have friends at work. It's even better to use those friendships to onboard new people and make them feel welcome instead of an outsider.

Or you can just focus on being "sports-topical" at work. You know what I'm talking about - "Did you see the game?"

In the absence of friends, have your stage banter down.  Have a hot take, people.


Kimberlee, Esq.

Love this post, and love the advice of using superfriends (love that term) in onboarding.

FWIW, I've always had friends at work, and it's always dramatically increased my job satisfaction. In fact, it seems like when people want to leave their job, they stay on longer not because of any loyalty to the organization, but because they genuinely like, and don't want to screw, their co-workers. That's powerful retention stuff!

Micole Kaye

Kris, thanks for writing. We spend so much time at work nowadays that having friends at work is essential. Including existing groups of friends into the on boarding process will increase the likelihood of finding friends and fitting in. I think a lot of people worry if they will "fit in" when starting a new job. So that will definitely help. I also think that companies that don't encourage employee friendships probably lack a warm culture that is necessary to achieving efficient satisfaction, and in turn, productivity/ quality.

Anais Hidalgo

I agree. I think having friends at work help make the tasks at hand more enjoyable and in turn makes everyone want to work more. In addition, I also think it helps with group work and motivating each other to get the best possible outcome.

On the other hand, it can also be a distraction if the friendliness goes to far and the employees want to spend more time gossiping about their weekend together rather than what the job at hand is.


Just found your blog. Great articles, please keep it up!

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