Is Friendship at Work Good for Productivity?

Friends make us happy, of course, but is friendship at work good for productivity? According to an Accountemps survey of Canadian employees, 61% of participants felt that their productivity was better when they had friends among their colleagues. Various psychological and managerial explanations can explain these results.

According to the results of a second survey conducted by Robert Half, the parent company of Accountemps, having good friends at work makes workers happier. You only need to think of your favourite work colleagues to admit that this survey proves what we suspected. Knowing that you are well surrounded, liked at work, both for what you are and for what you do, has a positive impact on your desire to go to work and give the best of yourself.

“We’re not talking here about spending your time giving hugs!,” laughs Denis Morin. This professor of UQAM’s School of Management Sciences encourages links of friendship at work, while making clear that mutual respect is above all what plays a role in the smooth operation of the company. Saying good morning, for example, is a good first step!

Dianne Hunnam-Jones, Canadian president of Accountemps, goes further when she explains the results of the survey. The support of friends at work gives wings, because it gives self-confidence. She says that it is the employer’s duty to “cultivate a strong spirit of camaraderie” with the goal of encouraging employee motivation, productivity and loyalty.

Political skills

When we speak of friendship at work, Denis Morin nuances by speaking of “political skills”, a skill connected to self-knowledge which is essential for anyone who wants to positively influence their career or professional trajectory. In his view, political skills require rallying, informing, convincing or persuading… behaviours that are also present in friendship. These skills explain why friendship at work increases productivity.

“It’s a question of valuing co-workers, developing good interpersonal relationships based on trust, humility, courtesy, rigorous honesty and having the success of every co-worker at heart. When we make a mistake, we must make amends, be authentic.” In political skills, therefore, there are the basics of a good friendship, and especially collegiality among colleagues.

When one becomes… too friendly

What is certain is the friendship at work can sometimes some effects that are… counterproductive. Such as when we are friendly with colleagues to the point where chatter prevents us from working, Denis Morin reminds us. “Chatting with someone in a 10-minute break is good for productivity. But chatting for an hour is less so!” In these cases, you just have to know how to raise barriers…

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