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Could making friends at work be your next best career move?

Professionals typically spend more waking hours with their coworkers than anyone else, so friendships are bound to blossom. But does having confidants help or hinder efficiency at work?

In a recent survey from staffing firm Accountemps, 62 percent of employees said having coworkers that are friends outside of the office positively affects productivity. But only 39 percent of CFOs think the same, and 44 percent said work friendships have no effect on productivity.

Workers and CFOs were both asked, “In your opinion, when coworkers are friends outside of the office, how does it affect productivity?”

Workers CFOs
Very positively 24% 8%
Somewhat positively 38% 31%
No effect 25% 44%
Somewhat negatively 9% 14%
Very negatively 1% 2%
Don’t know 3% 1%
100% 100%

A separate survey from Robert Half, the parent company of Accountemps, found that professionals who feel they have good friends at work are 1.6 times more likely to be happy at work than those who don’t.

“You don’t need to be best friends, but having an office buddy can do a lot of good for your career,” said Michael Steinitz, executive director for Accountemps. “Employees with strong work relationships are happier and have a built-in support system and sounding board when they need it.”

Steinitz added, “Managers who help cultivate work relationships among staff reap the benefits of a stronger corporate culture and increased employee engagement, productivity and retention.”

How to foster workplace friendships

Here are some tips from Accountemps for ways that employees and managers can foster friendships in the office:

Tips for Employees Tips for Managers
Join the club. Actively participate in team-building activities, social events, sports leagues and interest groups organized by your company and colleagues. Build a support system. Companies should create opportunities for employees to bond during working hours. Set up team-building activities outside the office to help employees foster new friendships.

Lend a helping hand. Offering assistance to a colleague on a project or task can help establish future connections. And your peer is likely to reciprocate when you are in need.

It’s all about perception. During interviews with candidates, highlight aspects of your corporate culture. If employees don’t get along, it may deter the applicant from accepting the position.

Set boundaries. Establish clear guidelines with work friends about keeping personal information private. And don’t let friendly banter disrupt you or your colleagues’ productivity.

Don’t play favorites. Managers should make it a point to treat all employees fairly and have a friendly attitude toward everyone so others don’t feel left out.

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