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‘The power of work friends’

May 12, 2023

On average we spend 81,396 hours of our lives – more than nine years – with our work colleagues. So it helps if they can stack the dishwasher properly. But having colleagues who actually like each other could be even more important than you think.

“Close friendships increase workplace productivity”, according to research cited in this fascinating Harvard Business Review piece by Jon Clifton. It gives some tips for how companies can improve the likelihood of social interactions at work:

  • Establish a buddy system. “The key to an effective buddy system is the frequency of the interactions.”
  • Increase face time. “At a minimum, coworkers need to talk more and email less.”
  • Collaborate. “The joy is in working together to produce magic.”

As the below graphic from Twitter shows, lone wolves are multiplying – and this is a cultural phenomenon that pre-dates COVID.

Of course, how businesses react to this trend is the million-dollar question. We might be biased, but there is a good argument to say that people leaders should be encouraged to refer their friends for roles. Here’s the chapter and verse from the Intrro e-book.

A Rutgers University study cited in the Harvard Business Review found that workplace friendships —also known as “multiplex relationships”— “significantly increase employee performance”, and increase the likelihood of employees cooperating with each other to ask for advice or access information.

In short, you can reduce attrition by building an inclusive referral program where your employees bring in people that they – shock horror – actually like working with. 

The rise of the robot recruiters

In a world where recruiters are being replaced by bioengineered humanoids from Blade Runner, we’re going to need all the friends we can get. 

A leaked Amazon memo suggests that the tech giant may be looking to replace human recruiters with AI software to screen applicants, reports Recode by Vox

“Tech titans like Amazon are looking to tighten their belts, seemingly in part by delivering on long-term bets that technology, and AI in particular, can do what humans do – and maybe more cheaply.”

Recruit a recruiter

But all is not lost, and even though it’s recruiter-geddon out there, here’s some good news: First Round Capital have launched Recruit a Recruiter – ‘a resource for recruiters and startups to find each other’. It’s described as “a homegrown course, designed to teach the foundations to those looking to make a career switch into tech recruiting”. Read more on their LinkedIn post (shown below).

The power of work friends isn’t just about creating a group of happy campers – your people are integral to an effective referral strategy. For more inspiration, read our creative ideas to boost referrals.

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