Every workplace has them – those employees who might as well be joined at the hip, that’s how much time they spend together. Call them work BFFs, work spouses, work buddies, or simply work mates, close working relationships can help people stay motivated in their workplace and put challenges into context. But there’s a downside too.
A survey by totaljobs asked 4,001 employees and 103 employers about their experiences with and attitutes toward close office relationships. It found that the majority of respondents make friends at work, with 48% having strong relationships with more than one colleague, and 17% indicating they have a “work spouse”.
The remaining 35% seemingly keep their work and personal life separate, saying they don’t have any strong relationships at work.
According to the survey, 54% of employers said that strong work relationships in general improve company culture, while 70% even thought it’s healthy for employees to have someone they bond with or confide in more than other colleagues.
But it’s that work BFF bond that could prove problematic in the long run. When asked how they’d be impacted if their work buddy left, a worrying 23% of employees said they would consider leaving too. We probably don’t need to point out that losing not one, but two employees simply because they got so close isn’t good for business.
While this may sound serious, as an employer you might find that the benefits of work BFFs outweigh the potential risk of losing staff. 60% of employees said they look forward to work thanks to their close relationship with their office buddy. What’s more, 39% feel more productive and 30% feel more valued as a member of staff.
If you are worried about the risk of your employees resigning in pairs, try to encourage an environment in which staff members can develop multiple good relationships with coworkers. That way, when one colleague leaves, there are plenty of other office friends to fall back on.
Of course, as workplace culture experts Good&Co pointed out in the survey, if you’re looking to prevent people from leaving altogether, hiring for job and culture fit is still one of the best ways to foster retention. Ensure that your employees come into work because they enjoy what they do, not just because they like the companionship.
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