The friendship we form with our colleagues is a strong one. After all, who understands you more than someone who shares your 9 to 5 grind, and helps you through the working week!

With ‘International Friendship Day’ coming up on August 7th, many will be celebrating with their nearest and dearest, but, while most employees consider workplace friendships to be an important part of their working life, many HR professionals will be facing the battle of the balance – are staff friendships good for business, or counter-productive?

Friendship plays a big part in workplace culture, which in turn helps to keep staff happy and motivated; the concern for employers is that working with friends can be distracting and actually decrease productivity. We recently conducted a survey to explore how UK workers felt about their friendships with their colleagues, and considering the average Brit spends 40 hours a week at work, it was no surprise that 90.5% believe that having friends in the workplace is important.

It would be unrealistic (and also unnecessary) to try to ban all friendships at work, but the question remains, how can employers and HR teams help to get the right balance between work and socialising?

Retaining Staff

It’s clear that friendships are important to employees, with 1 in 5 admitting that they have stayed in a job they disliked, in order to remain close to their work friends. Staying in a job that lacks opportunity, just because they have good friends in the office is a big mistake and HR teams should be wary of this. That said; friendships clearly are important and if there are too many restrictions on socialising then organisations could risk losing talented members of staff. Organising social events after work or at weekends can help to keep staff happy and motivated, whilst also avoiding any disruption during office hours.

Offering Support

Having a strong support system in place is important to workers and while HR teams play an integral role here, friends can also help to discuss matters they may not wish to share with HR. This means that when problems do arise, they can work together to resolve the issue, and ensure that it does not affect their work. Friends may also help to foster each other’s creativity, bouncing ideas off one another, whilst feeling comfortable enough to be brutally honest if some ideas don’t quite work out.

Finding a Balance

Creating the right balance is extremely important. At CV-Library for example, we have a structured 9-5.30 day, where its heads down for most of the time to ensure we have a productive working environment. But, we recognise the need to reward staff, and organise social opportunities once or twice a month to ensure the culture is still fun. Enjoying time together outside of the office is important – no matter what level you’re at.  

Interestingly, our research revealed that 87.3% of workers place their own career ambitions ahead of workplace friendships, suggesting that while having friends at work is important; workers are not prepared to let them affect their own progression: good news for businesses.

Friendships at work can be extremely invaluable, but HR teams need to find a balance between a happy and friendly workplace, and keeping productivity levels up. While this can be difficult to maintain, putting rules in place to maintain a professional atmosphere during the day, whilst offering perks that allow staff to socialise in their spare time, will help considerably.

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