Employ Insight

The Number Three Key to Better Employee Relations

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  • Research conducted at thousands of companies worldwide reveals that employees who do not have a “best friend” at work have only a 1 in 12 chance of being engaged on the job. Those same surveys revealed that only 30% of employees DO have a best friend a work.1 Clearly, we’ve got plenty of room for improvement and an opportunity to astronomically increase employee engagement. But how do we tap into this potential goldmine?
    First, managers need to set the example! Second, companies need to teach their employees basic communication standards.

    The third key to tapping into the bottom-line benefits of having employees who are friends is to create opportunities for employees to connect!

    Create Opportunities for Employees to Connect!

    As the saying goes “The family that plays together, stays together.” And so it is true for work families as well. Employees that have fun together, become friends, and spend time together outside of work are more innovative on the job and work more efficiently as a team. For obvious reasons, employees that become friends also stay with company longer and are less likely to look for another job when the company is experiencing a “rough patch.” According to Gallup surveys only 2 out of 10 employees spend time with their coworkers outside the workplace, and a mere 1 out of 10 employees considers building friendships with coworkers to drive performance. The same surveys reveal that those few employees who do cultivate friendships at work are over 250% more satisfied with their job.2

    Thus, employees’ lack of effort to become friends with their officemates is a mistake. But, there is an opportunity for companies to coax employees along. Perhaps employees have neglected becoming friends because they are unsure if it is within the company culture, or because they lack the free time to do so. Companies can easily put these friendship killers to rest by creating more opportunities for employees to connect.

    Here are three simple ways that you can make your company more conducive to workplace friendships:

    1.Rearrange the physical space.

    • Workplaces where employees have areas to gather (break rooms, dining areas, lounges, etc.) have 100% more employees with a best friend at work.
    • Workplaces with an open layout, one conducive to talking with your coworkers, are 300% more likely to have a close-knit workgroup.

    2. Celebrate together

    • If your office is small, throw a small celebration (cake and happy birthday, or even just the birthday song, will do).
    • Celebrate office wins: major successes with clients, a new sponsor, the launch of a new product, etc.
      • Sponsor an in-office company lunch, head out for a happy hour, or even just put balloons in the common area.

    3. Get together when you’re not working

    • Regular events where people can socialize and get to know each other better are essential.
    • Possibilities include: monthly or bi-monthly social hours, local outings to interesting and fun events, community service as a workgroup, and big parties at the holidays or after a major company success.
    • Managers: If possible, invite your employees over to your house for a party. This is an excellent way of setting the example and helping your team get to know you.

    This is part three of a three part series on improving employee relations. To read part one, click here. To read part two, click here.

    Sara is one of fewer than 300 people in the world to earn her master’s degree in Positive Psychology – the science of individual and organizational thriving. Sara coaches managers and executives to create an environment where employees work at peak productivity. Sara’s approach to management consulting is to help businesses identify and cultivate their current strengths, as well as identifying shifts in management practices that will have the greatest impact on employee engagement and the company’s bottom-line. After identifying the most important areas for growth Sara guides managers and work teams through positive change. Sara’s website is saraoliveri.com.

    1Rath, T. (2006). Vital Friends: The People You Can’t Afford to Live Without. New York: Gallup Press.
    2Gottman, J., & DeClare, J.(2001). The Relationship Cure: A 5 Step Guide to Strengthening Your Marriage, Family, and Friendships. New York: Three Rivers Press.
    Photo Credit: flickr/iMorpheus