Work Friendships

Do You Have a Work Best Friend?

One of the best ways to foster company culture and increase employee retention is not a special perk you can offer, like free lunches or a gym pass, but something more personal: a work best friend. Historically, the workplace was a common way for people to develop friendships, and companies noted that socialized coworkers were more likely to stay in their positions and produce better work. To help friendships form, companies would create social opportunities to provide employees with time to mingle with coworkers outside of work.

However, since the pandemic and the rise of hybrid/remote environments, HR and leaders have struggled to create the same opportunities for employees to nurture friendships1.

Friendships in the Workplace

In a recent poll, just two in 10 employees reported having a best friend at work. Employees with no strong work friendships tend to feel more isolated and less engaged. As a result, productivity can be affected since there is less collaboration and a sense of responsibility. Even more interesting, research has shown that strong relationships at work influence an employee’s likelihood to recommend their workplace, the probability of leaving a position, and overall satisfaction2.

Whether the work environment is remote or in-person, a work best friend is vital for employees to have a sense of connection and support. These friendships increase an employee’s sense of ownership, which enables them to be more productive and thoughtful about the work produced. Additionally, in this type of setting, employees feel more comfortable offering their ideas and asking questions without feeling embarrassed.

Another important benefit of work friendships is that employees have a buddy to navigate new processes and technologies. Not only can employees learn quicker, but they can brainstorm with each other to determine if there are any areas to improve in a process or how best to implement a new technology.

Creating Space

While there is no perfect recipe for creating friendships, many companies are thinking about how to create modern opportunities for employees to build relationships organically. When strategizing ideas, it’s important to be as inclusive as possible, not take away too much from personal time, and have an activity that allows people to think outside of their normal. Some activity ideas:

• Volunteering at a Food Bank
• Guiding a Cooking Session
• Starting an Intramural Sports Team
• Creating a Book Club
• Hosting Trivia
• Forming Work Groups (e.g. CSR)


11Korn Ferry Won’t You Be My (Work) Friend? 2024
2Gallup The Increasing Importance of a Best Friend at Work 2022