The Power of Peers, or Why You Need to Better Leverage Friends on the Job

Do you have friends at work? What about a best friend?

Do you think this is too “soft” a question to be asking about the workplace environment?

Having friends at work matters – for many reasons:

  1. It increases employee engagement. Gallup asks just 12 questions to gauge employee engagement and one is “I have a best friend at work.”
  2. It creates emotional ties to the workplace. Think about friends of yours who have left your workplace (or perhaps yourself). A common refrain often heard from those leaving is “I will miss the people here the most.
  3. It increases productivity and performance. It’s just common sense that we will work harder for and better with those we consider friends. Think how many times you’ve said to someone you like and trust at work, “Would you do me a favor?” Would you ask the same of those you don’t consider friends?

Involving work friends more in recognition

Having friends at work is important, but we don’t leverage them well.

Think of your current Long Service or Years of Service anniversary program. Who participates? If you’re like 90 percent of companies, it’s a limited exchange with the direct manager giving a certificate and perhaps a reward packet to the employee – sometimes even with a letter address to “Dear Valued Colleague.”

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If our friendships at work are so important, why aren’t we directly and proactively including friends in the celebration of major work anniversaries? After all, who knows the stories about your successes and contributions better than those you work with every day.

Our Fall 2014 Workforce Mood Tracker Report examined what it means to connect with friends at work, how recognition makes us feel, and how companies can build on those feelings to grow effective commitment and loyalty. The results might change how you think about work friendships, culture and years of service anniversaries.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at the results in this infographic:Fall-2014-Mood-Tracker-Infographic_final2

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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