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Love and hate at the workplace

Posted on August 24, 2015 by Stanislava Burianek

Some employers discourage work-related socialising because they think it’s a waste of time. But research from Gallup linked close work friendships to higher employee satisfaction, claiming people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be motivated and productive.

It makes sense: if you feel your workplace relationships add to your life, you’re likely to be happier and more committed. There are a lot of advantages in having friends at your workplace, as well as hitches.

love and hate at the workplace

  • A friend in need

Workplace friendships can reduce unhealthy competition between staff. Take highly talented people, for example: research has shown they can be singled out by jealous peers who seek to undermine them.

  • Similarity breeds content

Broadly speaking, we make friends at work either to help us get something done (task related) or for emotional support (someone to have lunch with or talk about work-related problems). In either scenario, it’s easier to make friends with like-minded people

  • Longevity

If you love your job and want to live a long life so you can enjoy it longer, friends in the office will help you do that. One source says, “strong social support from peers on the job actually helped boost longevity.” This means that even though your friends are at work, they play an important part of your life.

  • Friends at Work Help With Work/Life Balance

Another benefit to having a good pal at work is that you’re more likely to maintain a good overall work/life balance. Your work friends will care about you and encourage you to go home on time, take your lunches (rather than always working through them at your desk), and maintain a healthy lifestyle. In other words, you’ll be less likely to suffer from burnout and stress if you have a friend at work.

Forbes magazine says, behind that veneer of workplace confidence, your co-workers and even your boss may harbor serious doubts about their closest relationships. The finding of a groundbreaking study, The State of Friendship in America Report, 2013 [infographic] sheds new light on the dire social landscape. Friendship between colleagues can blur decision making, making difficult decisions more complicated and leading to distractions or inappropriate behavior.

How can someone operate in the best interest of the company if they’re also worried about a vital friendship – particularly when it comes to performance reviews or layoffs?

Such strong bonding may trigger the following issues:

  • Bad vibes

When people become too personal (men and women equally), they tend to discuss other colleagues, and gossiping never ends up well, no matter how big or small the origanisation is. Confrontation camps are inevitable and may trigger bigger conflicts. We all want to avoid bad vibes at work! In the end someone leaves the organization.

  • Mixed messages

When your friend has an issue with the management, you will most probably hear her/his side of the story since it is not under your remit to go and ask your manager his/her side of the story. You will become that supportive shoulder and will feel the pain like your own. Once you are the one to have issues with the management, you will of course feel unappreciated and disrespected, as you believe in your own innocence. The bottom line, your issues plus your friend’s issue will create negative perception about the company and you will drive your own subjective conclusions that are damaging for your career and for the company image. Somebody will get too frustrated and resign accusing the workplace of being abusive. The reality – you created this perception in your head based on the experiences you didn’t even live through. (Read more about Ups and Downs of workplace friendships)

  • Value for money

Sooner or later you become too close and there is nothing that can stop you from sharing your income numbers, even NDA! So you get to know you are earning less than Nina and it drives you crazy, as of course, you are more competent and hardworking, WTH?!! Whether you like it or not, but the worm of jealousy will eat your consciousness and will convince your worth more than this. You will start hating your BFF, your management and yourself for being so stupid for accepting that miserable offer in the first place! Bottom line – somebody leaves.

There are of course more issues we can go on and on about, as well as some positive sides of the office friendship, but the results are damaging to both – organizations and employees. I do not say we need not be friendly or not to have time out together and maintain friendships outside working hours, but you need to be ready. And by ready I mean, either mature enough to keep your work rapport professional, or to just keep the distance. After all, we all move on, acquire new friends at the new office, but the impression we leave behind at the previous workplace will shape our reputation. Dubai is a small place, and PR agencies are not as many. Sooner or later we will all meet on our way to success.

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