Recruitment: The rising importance of a best friend at work

Sheep Central, March 4, 2024

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PEOPLE instinctively want close, trusting relationships – at work and in life.

Whether employed in the office, in the paddock, or in the digital world, having a ‘best friend’ at work contributes to a thriving employee experience and to communication, commitment and other outcomes.

In fact, recent data generated by Gallup shows that having a best friend at work has become more important since the COVID pandemic, even considering the increase in remote and hybrid work.

There are several factors behind the rising importance of having a best friend at work. For many employees, the pandemic caused traumatic experiences and other profound difficulties, particularly for healthcare and other front-line workers and educators. These employees found the social and emotional support from their best friends at work to be more critical than ever to get them through challenging times.

Some employees found their best friend at work offered judgment-free encouragement during the toughest storms – the kind of support that communicates, “You’re not alone.”

Others who were thrown into the world of remote or hybrid work found that their best friend at work helped keep them informed, accountable and connected to their team. For instance, an employee can ask their best friend at work “dumb” questions about changes to how things get done – without fear of embarrassment.

And when workloads are heavy, your best friend at work is someone you feel accountable to, someone you don’t want to let down. As a result, you naturally want to go the extra mile for them on a project.

On the other hand, an employee without a best friend at work became that much more isolated working from home. And because they lack collaboration and a sense of responsibility to a best friend at work, their performance may have dipped too.

Whether its in the office, the paddock or the virtual world, a best friend at work is a necessary source of connection and support.

Gallup’s research has repeatedly shown that having best friends at work is key to employee engagement and job success. Data indicates that having a best friend at work is strongly linked to business outcomes, including profitability, safety, inventory control and retention.

Employees who have a best friend at work are significantly more likely to:

  • engage customers and internal partners
  • get more done in less time
  • support a safe workplace with fewer accidents and reliability concerns
  • innovate and share ideas
  • have fun while at work

Gallup’s latest findings show that since the pandemic started, there has been an even stronger relationship between having a best friend at work and important outcomes such as employees’ likelihood to recommend their workplace, their intent to leave and their overall satisfaction with their workplace.

Best friends at work drive outcomes because they’re more than a social connection or good relationship. The importance of work friends is having someone you can rely on through thick and thin – someone who has your back and genuinely cares.

These authentic friendships deepen employees’ sense of ownership for their work and enable employees to be more effective and sustainable, regardless of where or when they work.

Best friends at work have played a crucial role as workplaces navigate changes, uncertainty and new ways of working. Change is here to stay, and best friends at work can keep one another informed and work together to familiarise themselves with new technologies and processes.

In Gallup’s experience working with clients, the following strategies can help promote best friends at work for in-person, remote and hybrid workers:

  • Promote intentionality, starting with leaders.
  • Create interactive opportunities for friendships to blossom.
  • Communicate often.
  • Building a Culture of Best Friends at Work


Source: Gallup Consulting 






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