Fiona Smith Columnist

Fiona writes on workplace issues, including management, psychology, workplace design, human resources and recruitment. She is a former Work Space editor at The Australian Financial Review and has also covered property, technology, architecture and general news.

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Workplace friendships breed success

Published 02 October 2012 12:00, Updated 11 June 2013 12:06

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Workplace friendships breed success

They may be Mad Men, but even Madison Avenue advertising executives needed to form alliances.

Do you have a good friend at work? If you don’t, you are not doing yourself any favours. People with work pals are happier, more productive and are more likely to get promoted.

That is not hard to understand. We all would prefer to be among people who enjoy our company, it makes us more collaborative and enthusiastic about our work and this feeds through to promotion opportunities.

Also, our managers are more likely to elevate us if they like us.

Of course, there are still people who believe that work should be a hard grind. You come into the world alone, you work alone and you die alone. Pretty grim, that. These people think that when you are at work, you should be working, not socialising, not going out to lunch together and certainly not gossiping.

Luckily, only 12 per cent of people surveyed by Randstad in its Work Watch survey thought that making friends at work was “risky”.

Their reasons for this fear were that they believed such relationships fed gossip, created favouritism, blurred professional boundaries or created conflicts of interest.

These people ought to get out a bit more and maybe do some reading. All the research shows there are benefits in making friends.

  1. According to Randstad, 67 per cent of Americans say pals make their job more fun and enjoyable, while 55 per cent say friends make their job more worthwhile and satisfying.
  2. People who initiate office friendships pick up the slack for their co-workers and organise workplace social activities are 40 per cent more likely to get a promotion in the subsequent two years.
  3. Friendships contribute more to a longer life than regular exercise.
  4. Having a good friend at work is a strong predictor of success. According to a Gallup Organisation study of more than 5 million workers, 56 per cent of the people who say they have a best friend at work are engaged, productive and successful while only 8 per cent of the ones who don’t are.