Umpty-ump research studies tell us it’s good to have friends at work.  Social scientists – academic and commercial types – tick off the reasons; friends …

  • Act as antidotes to declining employee engagement
  • Provide relief from stress (eight out of ten of us suffer from it)
  • Bond through a common sense of purpose
  • Improve productivity and profitability
  • Help with employee retention.

Yet few of these seers tell how, exactly, to find buddies in the 8 to 5 maelstrom.  There are some pretty obvious no-nos, like senior-senior manager with his/her staff member. 

And then there’s the matter of trust.  These days, the sharing of lives and values, somehow, seems risky.  Employment is not necessarily secure, and it feels better to carefully find those with whom to bond.  Besides, separating work and life is a good thing to do.

On the other hand, psychologists point out, we’re social animals, in social institutions.  So if leaders set the stage for appropriate camaraderie, the culture becomes that much stronger and its workforce, more resistant to outside forces. 

Puzzled?  The answer just could be part of orientation, onboarding, new hire initiation or whatever it’s called.  Right now, companies like Hyatt are assigning buddies to just arrived employees, individuals who will help with insights and questions.  That kind of match depends on (we hope) some rigorous screening and assessment, working to fit diverse peoples together for a longer-term relationship.  It sure helps when a tenured someone helps out a newbie, with no strings attached.

Now that’s what we call friends, with benefits.