Stick Together

For Gen Yers, birds of a feather truly do flock together. As the group migrates into the work force and baby boomers retire, more companies are seeing the benefits of hiring groups of Gen Y friends.
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This story appears in the March 2008 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

According to a recent survey by staffing company Accountemps, 57 percent of executives say office productivity increases when co-workers are friends outside of work.

"This generation is tremendously team-focused," says Mitchell Kusy, a professor at the leadership Ph.D. program at Antioch University and co-author of Manager's Desktop Consultant. "And their focus and loyalty is with friends and family."

As a lifestyle design expert and TV spokesperson, Kathy Peterson (at left) frequently hires people to help with various projects for her six-figure company in Tequesta, Florida, Kathy Peterson Productions Inc. For one event, she hired a woman who insisted on bringing a friend. "It was amazing how well they worked together," says Peterson, 51. Previously, she'd seen hires struggle because they didn't know each other. "There was that void. But as friends, there's a connection."

You need to be careful, though, when promoting within a group of friends. For individuals in the group who earn a promotion, Kusy suggests finding them positions elsewhere in the company to avoid favoritism toward friends. Even in normal circumstances, Peterson suggests assigning these employees different tasks in different arenas so they don't get too chummy.

Another potentially difficult situation is intimate relationships. "Make sure you're [specifying] the behaviors that you will and won't tolerate," explains Kusy. If your policies are clear and you offer a friendly, team-oriented environment, "you'll have a greater probability of engaging a group and keeping them there," says Kusy.

"Pull from the strengths of each individual," adds Peterson, who asks talented employees to recruit their friends. "You surround yourself with people who are like you."

Edition: July 2017

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