Employees getting together can have a surprising effect
Some organizations sponsor work functions primarily to make employees feel appreciated. Others just want to give workers a few hours off to have fun and relax.
Company social events, however, can provide another positive outcome — helping employees form friendships in the workplace — which can potentially boost innovation, efficiency and other key operational elements.
- Thirty-two percent of employees at 120 U.K. companies say having a best friend at work makes them more productive, according to a survey from Wildgoose.
- Twenty-two percent feel it inspires them to be more creative, and more than half — 57 percent — of employees say having a best friend at work makes their job more enjoyable.
- A multi-year research effort from The Gallup Organization suggests having friendships in the workplace can have a significant impact on employee experience. The research found personnel who had a best friend at work were 43 percent more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their performance in the last seven days.
- Those employees also reported significantly higher levels of healthy stress management, even though they’d generally experienced the same levels of stress as ones who didn’t have a best friend at work.
Staff members can benefit from socializing outside of work and in the office, and employers may see favorable effects if they do; several factors, though, can affect whether or not employees feel comfortable forming relationships with colleagues in the workplace — including:
Having opportunities to communicate face-to-face
Employees may IM, text or email each other during the day about work; don’t assume, however, that means they’re connecting on a deeper level.
Social media may also not be the best option. While more than seven in 10 professionals (71 percent) feel it’s appropriate to connect with colleagues on Facebook, fewer feel it’s OK to be linked on Twitter (61 percent) or Instagram (56 percent), according to an OfficeTeam survey. In-person company social events will likely be a more effective way for employees to get to know each other.
Encouragement to interact
Friendships can be formed at company-sponsored work functions; or employees may become better acquainted because they choose to spend social time together in the evening or on the weekend.
Fewer than 50 percent of coworkers, however, believe their bosses are supportive of employees socializing outside of work, according to a Fierce, Inc. poll — which may discourage some employees from making plans. Overall, more than a quarter — 28 percent — of employees say their organization as a whole doesn’t particularly support socializing outside of work.
Activities that resonate with employees
72 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Randstad said attending professional events, such as conventions, seminars and lectures, was an appropriate activity to undertake with workplace friends. Many (61 percent) also felt attending non-work functions — such as a movie or concert, or getting dinner together — was a suitable way to socialize.
Company work events, however, that involve a longer time commitment, such as an overnight retreat, may not inspire every employee to bond. Only 19 percent thought vacationing together was an appropriate activity for people who’d established friendships in the workplace.