4 Ways Companies Foster Productive Co-Worker Friendships

Unsurprisingly, workers who enjoy the company of their coworkers are far more productive and innovative than people who don't.

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By Matt Straz


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

People spend just as much -- if not more -- time with their co-workers as they do with their own families. It's no wonder some out-of-office time might result in a little #FOMO, or fear of missing out.

In fact, an average of 45 percent of respondents miss their co-workers or aspects of their job in some capacity while out of the office, according to an Indeed survey of 500 employed professionals conducted in August.

That's not such a bad thing, considering employees with friends at work are 47 percent more likely to like their companies, says Globoforce's Fall 2014 Mood Tracker Report.

Managers looking to improve retention and company loyalty should look at employee friendships around the office and what's helping co-workers to connect. Without positive employee relationships as a company foundation, other engagement and retention initiatives might not take hold.

Here are some ways to build a culture that inspires office friendships. After all, employees who get along together, work well together:

1. Enable peer feedback.

Peer recognition remains one of the top five recognition programs offered by 48 percent of the 457 organizations surveyed by World At Work from February through March 2015. A whopping 94 percent of the organizations that have these recognition programs deeply embedded into their culture noted they have a positive effect on both motivation and engagement.

Encourage employees to recognize one another and give feedback, too. Teams need to feel safe collaborating with one another. When a compliment on a job well done comes from a close team member, it means so much more.

To simplify the process, automate peer review requests so they are sent out for employees to complete regularly. They can be as simple as asking a question like, "Who helped you the most this week?"

Related: How to Build Meaningful Relationships in the Workplace

2. Create more shared moments.

An interesting 2014 study by Yale University found experiences are more intensely amplified when shared with someone.

Additionally, 32 percent of respondents from Globoforce's report said milestones are more "emotionally impactful" when celebrating with peers. Shared experiences like these make employees feel more valued, engaged and proud of their work.

Create more opportunities for the team -- or entire company -- to bond, whether it's over a meal, office excursion or volunteer project. Don't force fun, though. Invite employees to exciting events and venues, and while work talk may take up a portion of the outing, leave the actual bonding to the company's awesome people.

3. Use a social newsfeed.

Employees enjoy knowing what everyone else is up to and staying up to date with office happenings. In fact, 65 percent of respondents wanted co-workers to share stories and memories when celebrating milestone awards in order to make the experience more meaningful, according to Globoforce's survey.

Provide a communication space where employees can share updates, memories and day-to-day happenings, like a team forum or social newsfeed. Not only can employees stay in touch more easily, they can also use this space to crowdsource ideas, congratulate others and make special announcements.

Related: Why the Five People Around You Are Crucial to Your Success

4. Break down silos with better collaboration initiatives.

Organizational silos -- or employees who operate in isolation from others -- stymie innovation and severely hinder employee relationships from forming. A collaborative culture supports happier, more engaged employees, according to a recent Google survey of 258 North American companies.

The survey found 88 percent of respondents who strongly agreed that their company supports knowledge-sharing and collaboration also strongly agreed that employee morale and job satisfaction were high.

Take note when employees isolate themselves or seem unusually quiet. That might be a sign of stress or overload, which is when an employee needs support the most. Take care when assigning projects that it's the right group for the task, and designate who will support whom in what aspects of the project.

Use a digital task management platform to help employees stay organized as they collaborate on projects. Ask them to post updates in the task comments to keep everyone on the same page.

With these four tips, workplaces don't just become friendlier: Employees make very real friendships that can bring the whole company together.

Related: 7 Ways to Create a Friendly Environment at Work

Matt Straz

Founder and CEO of Namely

Matt Straz is the founder and CEO of Namely, the HR and payroll platform for the world's most exciting companies.

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