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Office BFF’s Maximize Employee Engagement

by Kammie on October 21st, 2006

OK, so Paris and Nicole aren’t BFF role models, but according to USA Today, 29% of employees say they have not just a friend, but a BEST friend at work. It seems that best friendships are indeed good for business.

“It’s widely accepted that the winning companies during the next generation will be those that have employees eager to come to work and bring with them their hearts, minds, creativity and passion. That kind of worker has been coined in management speak as “engaged,” and an industry has sprouted around the elusive quest to find them, convert them and prevent them from slipping into the ranks of the “disengaged” — or worse — the “actively disengaged.”

Here’s what those wacky kids over at Gallup have uncovered about BFF’s and engagement:

  • Among the 3 in 10 workers who strongly agree that they have a best friend at work, 56% are engaged, 33% are not engaged and 11% are actively disengaged to the point of poisoning the atmosphere with their negativity.
  • Among the 7 in 10 who do not strongly agree that they have a best friend at work, 8% are engaged, 63% are not engaged and 29% are actively disengaged.

What does all this really mean?

In essence, people who have a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged. Meaning they DIG coming to work. What a concept! People who don’t have a best friend have 1-in-12 odds of being among the engaged.

It gets worse. Those without a BFF have a one in three chance of being actively disengaged. Those ”dis-engaged” folks may become argumentative, sabotage or otherwise become a serious downer to the sucees of an organization. And you can bet your bottom dollar that those who don’t have an office BFF can consider themselves far more likely candidates for dismissal.

So not only does having a BFF make work more fun, it keeps you further away from getting your butt canned! Govleaders.org shares similar findings in Getting Personal in the Workplace - Are Negative Relationships Squelching Productivity in your Company?

“The most evident finding is that engaged employees perceive an element of selflessness in their best and closest partnerships, particularly those with their managers. There was strong agreement with the statement “This person sets me up for success” was the best differentiator of the “engaged” and the “not engaged” groups. And unlike their not-engaged counterparts, engaged employees also agree more strongly with regard to both managers and colleagues that “This person is always understanding of me when I make mistakes” and “This person and I complement each other’s strengths.”

This suggests that managers who want to boost workgroup engagement levels — and help not-engaged employees become engaged — might benefit from developing trusting and supportive relationships with their employees.”

Tom Rath’s book Vital Friends: the People You Can’t Afford to Live Without, touches on this very concept. Inside the book, Rath ”explores the inherent value of friendships and says that the need for friends goes beyond commonality or companionship; in particular, he devotes a section to friendship at work, which, unlike many companies and managers, Rath sees as a positive force. Rath’s research shows that employees who have a best friend in the office are more productive, more likely to engage positively with customers, share new ideas and stay longer in a job.”

Lesson here? Avoid the water cooler gossip. Quit trying to pick a cat-fight. Stop bullying your cubicle mate. Start spreading the love. Find commonalities instead of differences. Find some like-minded folks and start buddying up. You might not only boost office morale, you could find yourself moving on up the corporate ladder faster than Nic and Paris swap out BFF’s!


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POSTED IN: Collaboration tools, Cube life, General work pimps, Staying Sane, Survival Skills, Workplace Wellness

1 opinion for Office BFF’s Maximize Employee Engagement

  • Joe McCarthy
    Oct 22, 2020 at 1:38 pm

    Thanks for an engaging post! Tim Sanders offers some related wisdom in his book “Love is the Killer App: How to Win Business and Influence Friends”, where he presents what he calls the “lovecat way” of knowledge, networking and compassion … I blogged a bit about some of his insights in a post on “bizlove” (http://gumption.typepad.com/blog/2005/12/bizlove_is_the_.html). I also highly recommend Tom Rath’s earlier book, “How Full is Your Bucket: Positive Strategies for Work and Life” (which I also blogged about: http://gumption.typepad.com/blog/2006/02/filling_buckets.html).

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