If we think about companies as people--which is really what they are--then we might ask ourselves one simple question: who do we want to hang out with?
My hunch is that like in your social life--you probably want to hang out with those that you (truly) like, know, and trust. In fact, research shows that having a best friend at work is not just nice to have, it makes for a more resilient workplace. Employees who have a best friend at work are:
- 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition in the last seven days
- 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development
- 35% more likely to report co-worker commitment to quality
- 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work talked to them about their progress
- 27% more likely to report that their company makes them feel their job is important
- 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work
- 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day
Besties at Work
Psychologist Ron Friedman has been studying workplaces his entire career. He claims that having a best friend at work is one of the strongest indicators of productivity. Indeed, when we have that same deep social bond with our friends as we do with our coworkers -- there is an intrinsic obligation to do, and be our best. Friedman writes:
"Employees that have a best friend at work tend to be more focused, more passionate, and more loyal to their organisations. They get sick less often, suffer fewer accidents, and change jobs less frequently. They even have more satisfied customers."
The best places to work often involve having your besties right there alongside you. The proverbial office becomes a more enjoyable place and space where you can both be vulnerable and have a laugh too.
Return on Trust
A workplace with people you don't trust is a place where the golden rule does not exist. It's riddled with paranoid workers who operate out of fear rather than confidence. It's chalk full of power dynamics where backstabbing is fair game. It's a place where managers smother and micro-manage because they operate from a position of fear and anxiety. They isolate themselves further as they move up the ranks -- and then lose more sleep each night for fear of dropping the ball.
A trustless company has a toxic culture that suffers from unrealized creative potential and productivity. It becomes a poisonous environment where stressed-out workers affix, and then continually adjust their professional masks. But if we flip it, if the bedrock of an organization's operating system rests on trust then what follows is a culture rich with psychological safety (the magic ingredient found by Google when it studied its teams).
One way to really earn trust is through radically candid conversations. Fanny Auger who teaches the art of conversation at the School of Life adheres to a three simple ingredients: 1) Openness; 2) Willingness (to have powerful conversations); and 3) Listening (like really good listening).
The return on trust cannot be overemphasized -- it creates a spirit where folks can be themselves, share ideas, gain constructive feedback, and real support that enables them to learn, grow, and succeed.
The next generation worker isn't going to put up with dysfunctional workplaces and toxic cultures. A movement of progressive workplaces that cultivate nourishing cultures is also a branding exercise. Dubbed 'employer branding,' the discipline sits pretty between HR and Marketing. It's a very reassuring sign that folks have awoken to the fact that HR is a marketing function. Culture nerds that tend to their company's gardens remain cognizant of their organization's energy and do well to tell their authentic stories.
Hito Labs founder Victoria Stoyanova puts it best when she explains, "Culture is the invisible glue that holds everything together in the equation of professional life." Without this glue things don't just fall apart, they fail to stick in the first place.