A study conducted in June 2022 has recently published some results about workplace friendships. According to Gallup, just 2 in 10 adult U.S. employees currently report having a “best friend” at work. The study also showed a strong connection between workers with best friends on the job and overall workplace safety, profitability, inventory control and employee retention.
The report revealed that such friendships offer social and emotional support at critical times and that employees with work besties are more likely to engage customers and get more done in less time. Personally, I wasn’t surprised by this. I have been blessed by some deep and enduring friendships on the job and they continued even after my colleague(s) left for other employment. In fact, I think work would have been nearly impossible at times had it not been for my “work family” as I navigated through the ups and downs of my personal and professional life. Even those where we haven’t seen or talked in years are easily reignited and the lost time falls away because like old soldiers, we were in the trenches together.
Work friends are often equated with job satisfaction, lower levels of stress, and higher levels of engagement and motivation. Studies show these friendships contribute greatly to employee retention and have a positive impact on corporate culture and a workplace dynamic. Consider this: the average person who works a 9 to 5 job spends approximately 2,080 hours per year with coworkers which leaves about 1,450 waking hours to spend with family. Is it any wonder our colleagues morph into quasi family members?
I’m a baby boomer with 43 years in my industry – 17 of those with one company, another 26 with the other. You can bet I have relied long and hard on the people I’ve worked with to get me through illnesses, grief and the ups and downs of daily life. I’ve shared laughs, tears, lunches, wedding plans, listened to sad stories of parents with Alzheimer’s, difficulties getting pregnant, some pretty awful divorces and scary diagnoses. It was everyday life in my everyday job.
Since the pandemic, I have worked remote, which suits what I do – mostly writing projects. Many of my pre-pandemic friends no longer share our place of employment – they have retired, changed jobs, moved or are now full time remote like me. Those visits to each other’s desks, the quick chat in a cubicle, the sharing of photos, the taste of a new cookie recipe – I had no idea how much I would miss those little details of office life. But Covid 19 disrupted all that and while you can go back, there is still a perceptible change. It makes me wonder how Gen Z will fare in the decade ahead. Will the old camaraderie and shared experiences depicted on sitcoms like The Office and Parks and Recreation be lost on our post-pandemic workforce? Most of the young people I know are adamant about scheduling flexibility, shorter work weeks and living a kind of nomadic work existence with plenty of travel and a reluctance to stay in one place too long. I guess they can’t miss what they didn’t have, but I’ll miss it for them. Instead, they will perhaps rely on friendships cultivated not on the job, but on their journeys and that’s okay too.
So while I miss those day-to-day friendship intimacies, I care about them enough to still nurture my connections. There are more text messages, face timing, zoom gatherings, weekend brunches and face-to-faces whenever possible. In my office I recently heard about distance besties – two colleagues one in our Long Island office, one in our Florida office who keep their Teams connection open/live so they can talk to each other easily throughout the day. Their manager approves and says its positive collaboration and she is all for it.
Work has been a huge chunk of my career and I cherish the people in it. I was able to make it a life not just a job and those people – my besties nurtured my soul too.
Thanks – too many to mention, but you know who you are!
About the Author
Nancy Schuman’s career spans more than 40 years in the staffing and employment industry. She is a long time advocate for career education and has written thousands of effective resumes for jobs seekers at all levels and skill areas. A recognized expert in workforce/workplace issues, she continues to write freelance articles and contribute to blogging platforms on topics related to job search, hiring, employee engagement and the current employment landscape. Since 1996 Nancy has served as Lloyd’s Chief Communications Officer and continues to be a key member of the leadership team. She is a certified staffing professional and is the former Careers Columnist for the Long Island Press. Nancy is also the author of 11 books on career guidance and business communications.
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