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It is now known from Gallup research efforts that when employees have good friends at work, it positively affects company profitability, safety, inventory control and customer loyalty. That when employees have best friends at work, they are less likely to leave their jobs! Great benefits if you ask me. But, inspite of these benefits of making close friends at work, many businesses are still falling short in terms of helping employees connect. That is a bit surprising though. Granted it may not be prudent to force relationships on people, there are very many things employers can do to encourage friendships among their employees. Some of these things involve having to provide more opportunities and the right environments for them to get to know each other and develop friendships naturally. In that regard, here are some of the activities that are practical and effective on employees’ friendships.
01. Provisions for group snacks and lunch. Yes, people love to eat and eating together and at the same times allows room for small talk and social interaction. Talking over a meal is a great way to build friendships.
02. Encourage employee attachments. In his book “The Audacity of Hope” former US president Barrack Obama is reported to have met his future wife Michelle in some form of work attachment to Michelle when Barrack was an intern in a law firm in Chicago. Many companies still use such a buddy system to welcome new employees. That is a way of pairing an employee with another who can show them the ropes, both formally and informally. That encourages real friendships and much more, even marriages as in the case of the Obamas.
03. Encourage group excursions/holidays. You can select and put some employees in charge of choosing, planning and organizing occasional events like excursions and even group cruises or holidays. Friendships grow easily from such group events.
04. Schedule some meetings offsite. It is always very exciting for employees to have meetings offsite their normal work environments. Workshops and seminars in a cozy resort or hotel away from home come in very handy here. Maybe once or twice a year, getting your team offsite for a day or a weekend is beneficial for them to socially interact and build friendships.
05. Form games teams. Company tennis, golf or volleyball team in a local recreational league can help build bonds of friendship among employees outside of work. With such teams playing in organized tournaments, even other employees who aren’t athletic can participate by cheering their co-workers on. Everyone thus catches some fun as a result.
06. Play games together. Games which help employees to bond are highly beneficial. Everyone gets to know and like the company champion in chess, tennis, and even champions in trivia games.
07. Schedule road works or hiking together. To keep fit, every employee needs to get active. Left alone, many people never get around to doing things which help them to keep fit. In groups, it is fairly easier to get employees to do road walk or go hiking together to help them keep fit. Employees can even be encouraged to go dancing at weekends to engender bonding. In most cases, doing silly stuff together helps to loosen people up and build bonds of friendship.
From the foregoing, you can easily discern that what works naturally is to have regular beneficial opportunities to do things socially together. Bonds of friendships naturally grow more easily that way. Employers must do things to make these activities happen for the overall benefit of the business. Yes, there’s work to be done, and there always will be. But it’s also very important to build relationships with and among the people who help you do the work.
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