A good scenario? Your employees like each other. A great scenario? Your employees are actually friends with one another. 

A work environment with authentic friendships is a happy work environment, you might not be surprised to find out. But according to a new survey, it's even more than that. Employees tend to have more pride for their organization and they're more likely to stick around.

Globoforce, an employee engagement company, recently asked 716 U.S. employees at organizations with more than 500 people about the impact that friendships had on their work experience.

"There is a significant difference in having even just one friend," the report says. "Those who do not feel connected to their organizations through their co-workers appear to be disconnected from their organizations in every way. Those with many friends are much more deeply connected to their companies, and indeed are almost three times more likely to say they love working there." 

Lots of participants indicated that they were much more than just water cooler buddies. In fact, 61 percent reported that their colleagues have supported them through a rough time in their lives.

Here are some other highlights from the study: 

  • Eighty-nine percent of respondents said that relationships at work impact their quality of life.
  • More than 60 percent of employees who have between six and 25 friends at work love their companies. This compares to only 24 percent who don't have friends at work. 
  • Almost half of employees with between six and 25 friends at work said they are highly engaged. Twenty-eight percent of employees with zero work friends say that they are. 
  • Forty-two percent of employees who don't have friends at work said they'd be willing to take a new job offer. But only 30 percent of employees with 6-25 friends at the office said they would. 

While it's great to see your employees getting along, this might leave you in an awkward spot. Most managers try to draw a clear line between supervisor and BFF. 

But the need for boundaries shouldn't stop you from getting in on the fun. Nor should you refrain from showing your employees how much you love having them around. According to Sigal Barsade, a professor of management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, you will set the stage for friendship throughout the office. 

"The primary determinant of how much companionate love will exist in a manager's group is the companionate love expressed by the manager," Barsade has found in her research.

For more on the effects that employee friendships have on the workplace, check out the infographic from Globoforce below. 

Published on: Sep 22, 2014