Making Friends at Work, or Not

Colleagues have become a second family for millions of Americans, who find themselves spending more time in the workplace then they do at home in the modern era. Friendships often blossom in this atmosphere of forced intimacy, according to a new report from staffing firm Accountemps.

However, Accountemps wonders if having confidants helps or hinders efficiency at work?

In a recent survey from the firm, 62 percent of employees said having coworkers that are friends outside of the office positively affects productivity.

But only 39 percent of CFOs think the same, and 44 percent said work friendships have no effect on productivity.

A separate survey from Robert Half, the parent company of Accountemps, found that professionals who feel they have good friends at work are 1.6 times more likely to be happy at work than those who don’t.

“You don’t need to be best friends, but having an office buddy can do a lot of good for your career,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps. “Employees with strong work relationships are happier and have a built-in support system and sounding board when they need it.”

Steinitz added, “Managers who help cultivate work relationships among staff reap the benefits of a stronger corporate culture and increased employee engagement, productivity and retention.”

Accountemps offers tips for both employees and managers:


Join the club. Actively participate in team-building activities, social events, sports leagues and interest groups organized by your company and colleagues.

Lend a helping hand. Offering assistance to a colleague on a project or task can help establish future connections. And your peer is likely to reciprocate when you are in need.

Set boundaries. Establish clear guidelines with work friends about keeping personal information private. And don’t let friendly banter disrupt you or your colleagues’ productivity.


Build a support system. Companies should create opportunities for employees to bond during working hours. Set up teambuilding activities outside the office to help employees foster new friendships.

It’s all about perception. During interviews with candidates, highlight aspects of your corporate culture. If employees don’t get along, it may deter the applicant from accepting the position.

Don’t play favorites. Managers should make it a point to treat all employees fairly and have a friendly attitude toward everyone so others don’t feel left out.

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