The power of friends at work

Friends at Work Are Important

At a certain level, once you kind of have “a field” in life — marketing, sales, development, HR, etc. — you can learn most jobs. You might switch industries or whatever, but the core tenets of what you need to do — your daily deliverables, essentially — won’t change much. Maybe you need to learn a new system or software tool, but you can do that within the first week (day?). What really differentiates workplaces isn’t necessarily the industry or the vertical or the projects; it’s the people.

I’d say that about my current job: in a lot of ways, it’s vastly different than anything I’ve done before. That part wasn’t hard at all. In fact, I feel like I’m more effective than I have been in previous jobs. Instead, the part I wanted to focus on — I’m about to hit 10 months there — was building relationships and people. Essentially, I wanted people to like me. I felt like that was the most important/best thing I could do for myself. I think I’ve done mostly OK.

Turns out my thinking was somewhat supported by research.

From here, and Quote 1:

If you have a friend whom you see on most days, the increase to your happiness is like earning $100,000 more each year. On the other hand, when you break a critical social tie, it’s like suffering a $90,000 per year decrease in your income.

Damn. Now this:

Research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests organizations most successful at integrating new employees use a relational approach, helping new hires to rapidly establish relationships with coworkers. The approach, while preferable, still relies on outdated best practice.

Onboarding is something that massively confuses me. It’s literally a new employee’s first point of interaction with a company, and yet no one even thinks about it for more than about 10 minutes. That’s awkward, right?

Think about it as a new employee, though: you spend all this time having to schedule meetings with people, get on their calendar, then sit there and have them rattle off their deliverables to you, etc. It’s so dumb. Everything in a workplace ultimately comes down to relationships and understanding who is who (which people also never take the time to learn/understand). Why don’t we invest in relationships from the jump, then? As opposed to investing in deliverables and process?

You will be as happy with good friends at work as you will making another $100K. So since we’re not promoting anyone and stagnating wages anyway, why don’t we change workplace communication structures to be more about the development of relationships? That would make our bottom-lines better, right?

Ted Bauer

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