The pandemic gave us a lot to think about and one of the biggest areas of scrutiny was our work life. Working long hours from home with little social interaction and more time to ponder if we are truly happy was a watershed moment for many that led to an unprecedented phenomenon now known as the The Great Resignation, or the Great Reshuffle.
It wasn’t just employers realizing the talent pool had suddenly blown wide open with the possibility of remote work, employees caught on, too. In 2021, nearly 47 million Americans voluntarily resigned to pursue something better. But what does “better” mean? A competitive salary, a tolerable boss, and flexible time off—all things that used to be the holy grail of corporate life—just don’t cut it anymore.
So, what makes a work experience enough to fill our cups in 2023? A work bestie, of course!
If that sounds frivolous, stick with us, this is no hokey concept. In fact, it’s backed by global-scale data. Analytics firm Gallup conducted a study that involved 2.7 million employees worldwide across 100,000 diverse teams and found that the 63 percent of respondents who reported having a work BFF were twice as likely to be more engaged and productive in their roles. If that’s not enough to entice you, economists theorize that having a friend you see most days at work is like earning $100,000 more each year.
Sure, a work mate may not come with the job offer, but if all your other boxes are checked, there is a strong case for seeking one out to enrich your experience and perform better in your role.
Read on to learn about the benefits of a work BFF, and how to find your professional match.
What Are The Benefits Of A Work BFF?
Having a confidant to vent to when your manager is being unreasonable, laugh with about a virtual snafu, or freak out with before a major presentation is more valuable than you think.
As social beings, the need to relate, bond, and form platonic or romantic relationships is innate. If you look at American Psychologist Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, intimate relationships are not only above our most basic needs for food and shelter but they are ironically even above job security.
Does that mean a work bestie is even more important than the work itself? That’s not exactly how to interpret it, but it does illustrate just how critical interpersonal connection is, solidifying it as a core human need. It’s not a frivolous desire like a luxury car or the latest smartphone. The bottom line is that we don’t just want companionship—we need it to thrive.
But do you really need a work pal if you already have loads of friends in your personal life? That’s a fair question and at a certain point in life, sometimes we pump the brakes on expanding our friend circle because there isn’t any more bandwidth to show up fully for new friends.
But the argument for a work BFF still stands. If you’ve had one before, you know that it doesn’t matter how much you try to relay your authentic work experience to your spouse, family members, or even your real-life bestie, no one will ever truly understand the full scope of what you’re really dealing with in your 9 to 5.
A work bestie completely gets it and this is particularly important in moments where you need an ally or assurance on a viewpoint. Sometimes you just really need someone you can trust who already has the full picture and can easily offer advice or a solution during difficult times on the job.
But the benefits go far beyond having a sounding board. Work BFFs have been associated with some serious job payoffs like better engagement and performance in a role. The Gallup survey showed that employees who reported having a work mate expended more effort and performed twice as well as their recluse counterparts.
In a separate study by Gallup that surveyed just the cohort that had a best friend at work, they found that these employees are less likely to be looking for work elsewhere, are more positive, and less likely to express fatigue, stress, or concerns, they take more chances that lead to innovation, and their sunny disposition means they make more progress throughout the day and take more pride in their own work and the work of those around them. Doesn’t that sound like someone you want to hire?
Are There Any Downsides To Work Besties?
Like anything else in life, there are some considerations to take when bringing a friend into your full-time fold. Before booking lunch reservations for the next six months, weigh the pros and cons of the friendship. Be sure this is someone that shares the same work ethic as you, has similar goals, and that your outlook and attitudes align. If you’re generally happy where you work and see yourself advancing with the company, buddying up with a negative Nancy could have the opposite effect on your career aspirations. The old adage is true, you are who you hang out with.
A few other guidelines to bear in mind are to keep it professional, especially in the confines of the workplace and on any company-owned channels and email. Always tune into your instincts and if you must create distance, do it diplomatically and don’t burn bridges. Finally, be true to your word and deliver on your promises.
Sign me up! How Do I Get A Work BFF?
Unfortunately, there’s no form in the HR department to sign up for your serendipitous mate and it can be even harder to bond with someone if you’re entirely remote but HR may still be able to help. Inquire about company programs that help connect colleagues like corporate social platforms that randomly bring employees together for virtual meetups in order to forge new relationships with people from departments outside of your own.
Say yes to team outings, lunches, company parties, fundraisers, and volunteer experiences even if you tend to be an introvert. If that invite never comes, lead the charge and organize a happy hour or department outing.
Don’t be afraid to share more of yourself. Sometimes at work we tend to stay neutral for fear of saying something that we might be judged for or that may change our colleagues’ or superiors’ perspective of us.
Be politically correct and use common sense, always, but don’t hold back fun factoids about yourself like your astrological sign, your decade-long obsession with your favorite reality TV show, or your bagpipe collection.
Ok, maybe don’t lead with the bagpipes, but the bottom line is that friendships are born out of bonding and the best way to bond is to be a little vulnerable and show more of yourself in order to find commonalities and have something to joke about later at the office.
Performance, engagement, and career longevity aside, above all, work besties make work fun—and let’s be honest, how often do you see those two words together?
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