Table of Contents
People spend a considerable part of their lives at their workplaces hence it is natural to develop interpersonal relationships with workmates. Friendship among workmates develops from the desire of human beings to create close relationships with their colleagues. Organizations have developed into important areas that facilitate cooperative and constructive relationships across workmates. Positive relationships among co-workers are crucial since they form the links through which people interact with others. Some organizations do not support work-related friendships due to increased cases of sexual harassment, romantic relationships, conflicts of interest, reduced productivity, gossip and office romance. Others find it an important part in the development of the organization. Good relationships at the workplace are an investment and valuable tool that fosters the attainment of organizational goals while bad relationships are a liability to the firm. Negative relationships among co-workers are emotionally draining and stressing which reduces employee performance. This paper will evaluate the positive relationships related to friendships at the workplace.
Friendships are the voluntary relationships that people develop with others in a bid to enjoy and develop feelings of satisfaction as opposed to fulfilling a particular role or function. Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 326) observed that as opposed to any other relationships that people develop in their lives, friendships are purely voluntary. As such, there is a stark difference between being friends with relatives, neighbors and colleagues since people do not have the ability to choose their friends. In most cases, friendships develop incrementally since there is no formal ceremony or boundary that marks the beginning of friendship. Friendships are reciprocal relationships aimed at enhancing the lives of the participants.
People in the workplace develop friendships for various reasons ranging from the fulfilment of their professional or personal needs. In this case, employees believe that their colleagues will be instrumental in facilitating their personal as well as professional development. Khaleel et al (2016, p. 1) stated that within organizations, employees develop various kinds of friendships such as ones with their managers, mentors, other employees, supervisors, clients and customers. Friendships with colleagues are usually reciprocal, subject to the written and un-written rules of the firm and developed within the goals and visions of the firm. Also, these friendships can be based on resolving personal issues such as marital, family or financial problems.
Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 326) affirmed that organizations are social systems that are usually made of people. Due to the various similarities among people in the firm characterized by similar life styles and personal interests, friends go beyond the formalities identified in most of the organizational operations to incorporate informal relationships. Berman et al. (2002, p. 217) identified that friendship at the workplace occurs naturally and is facilitated by factors such as being involved in the same roles and responsibilities, having the same educational background and having the same experiences in the workplace. In most cases, workplace friendship is associated with positive individual and organizational outcomes while at times, workplace friendship leads to conflicts, distraction and loneliness.
Since employees spend a large part of their time at the work places, they form interpersonal relationships with their colleagues which are either beneficial or disastrous to the firm. Khaleel et al. (2016, p. 2) stated that about 30% of the employees in the US report to be having a best friend at the organization. About 50% of these respondents stated that they were motivated to work with passion by their friends at the company. As compared to the employees without a friend at the workplace, about 75% of the workers reported to be willing to work for another year in the company. Mao et al. (2009, p. 255) maintained that workplace friendship is also related to positive attitudes and behaviors among employees which improves organizational outcomes. Besides, workplace friendship enhances the ability to perform tasks, complete jobs, give feedback and recommendation, resolve conflicts and guide workmates.
Workplace friendship enables individuals to fulfil both individual and teamwork goals. Since people use a lot of their time at their workplaces, employees develop personal and intimate relationships with collegues. Ayazlar & Berrin (2014, p. 319) observed that the functions and interdependencies among friends in the workplace lead to the development of diverse workplaces and friendship networks. Workplace friends develop strong social support networks in their personal and professional lives. While the modern workplace supports the development and maintenance of close relationships among employees, traditionalists argue that friendship among colleagues reduces the ability to make decisions and leads to inappropriate behavior within the work place.
Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 327) noted that workplace friendship improves employee perceptions of people and also their perception of their jobs and motivation. In addition to being voluntary, workplaces offer a lot of opportunities for employees to interact and make friends with their colleagues. The opportunity and quality of friendships is positively related to employee attitudes hence increased firm productivity. Bicer & Ozan (2017, p. 215) argued that it is difficult to overcome the challenges of managing workplace friendships since they erode the aspect of self and replaces it with team. They are also characterized by the development of strong emotional bonds among employees which may surpass the competition feelings they have. The threat may increase when employees develop friendships with the company’s rivals or debtors.
The patterns of friendship within the firm are dependent on employee’s status, level of education, experiences and profession. Khaleel et al. (2016, p. 2) suggested that the intensity of employee friendships increases when co-workers trust each other and spend time with each other outside of the working environment. Workplace friendships are positively associated with increased job satisfaction, job involvement, organizational commitment, shared values, effective communication, social support and less turnover rates. Berman et al. (2002, p. 218) stated that workplace friendship also fosters the participation of employees in job-related matters, improves the working environment, motivates employees to meet organizational goals and increases organizational productivity. These factors result from the high levels of trust, and shared values, beliefs and interests that employees hold within each other.
Workplace friendship has a positive influence on employee’s job-related behaviors, intentions and attitudes which are related to job satisfaction, turnover intention, job performance and absenteeism. Bicer & Ozan (2017, p. 217) suggested that workplace friendship leads to the development of both professional and personal relationships which can lead to either positive or negative results in the firm. Having trusting friends helps in getting advice from friends and co-workers thus enhancing job satisfaction, feelings of security and comfort. Friends within the workplace are involved in altruistic behaviors such as offering acknowledgement, feedback, guidance and recommendation. Ayazlar & Berrin (2014, p. 319) denoted that workplace friendship facilitates organizational performance since employees are ready to help others in various tasks and communicate openly while fostering their productivity within the firm. Besides, workplace friendship reduces the rates of absenteeism and turnover rates among employees since friends develop a sense of belongingness and obligation to the firm and friends who are ready to offer guidance, understanding, help and acceptance.
Workplace friendship and job satisfaction
Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 328) suggested that most of the people spend a large part of their time in their workplaces where they have to get along and solve the various issues and difficulties that crop up every day. Workplace relationships develop from these formal and informal interactions that employees have with their colleagues, managers, suppliers, debtors and customers. Berman et al. (2002, p. 218) argued that these friendships affect an individual’s job satisfaction since workers who are more satisfied in their jobs have low absenteeism and turnover rates than the ones who are dissatisfied with their jobs. According to the Wright’s Model of Friendship, friendships are important since they enhance the wellbeing of the friends and also offer rewards in the form of emotional support and encouragement.
According to (Bicer & Ozan, 2017, p. 218), this framework holds that the social environment at the workplace foster’s worker’s psychological wellbeing while negative interactions with colleagues leads to stress and confusion. The quality of friendships at the workplace is also associated with job satisfaction since such relationships are more rewarding. Khaleel et al. (2016, p. 3) argued that employees usually develop and maintain relationships that are mutual and voluntary thus increasing their job satisfaction as opposed to individuals exercising autonomy who may experience more stress and strain. Friends usually experience conflicts related to incompatibility and misunderstandings which are solved through negotiation and compromise thus enhancing their satisfaction in the workplace.
Ayazlar & Berrin (2014, p. 320) argued that the communal relationship framework suggests that friendship within the workplace is marked by concern for the other person’s wellbeing. Workplace friendship is thus seen as a highly reciprocal relationship where individuals give as much as they are taking. People who are more oriented towards the communal aspect experience more job satisfaction since they offer as much benefits as they are receiving. Employee’s position within the firm also affects their levels of job satisfaction. Mao et al. (2009, p. 256) stated that workers in professional careers usually have higher job satisfaction as compared to the lower ranking employees such as workers in clerical and customer service. This results from the fact that professional employees receive more intrinsic rewards from the firm thus creating a stark demarcation between them and the lower-ranking employees. As such, their friendships may be more professionally-driven as opposed to personally-oriented thus increasing their job satisfaction.
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Workplace friendship and employee engagement
Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 328) stated that employee engagement is a process through which employees are harnessed towards their specific roles in the firm. Employee engagement leads to a positive interaction between the employees and their responsibilities in the firm. To facilitate employee engagement, workers need to be offered safe and psychologically motivating environments within the firm. Interpersonal interactions among employees within the firm foster employee engagement. Berman et al. (2002, p. 219) observed that friends at the workplace offer social support to the individuals involved which in turn increases their engagement to the firm. Besides, positive relationships with colleagues increases an individual’s safety and job satisfaction which in turn increases their engagement to the firm.
Workplace friendship and employee job embeddedness
Job embeddedness reflects the combination of material, psychological and financial factors that attract an individual to the firm. Employee retention is the most commonly studied variable of job embeddedness which is negatively associated with high turnover rates in the firm. Khaleel et al. (2016, p. 3) asserted that job embedddedness is also related to increased citizenship behavior and job performance among employees. Workplace friendships are built on trust, attachment and commitment to the organization, factors that make up the aspect of job embeddedness. As such, friendships with like-minded colleagues in the firm increases one’s attachment and commitment to the organization.
Workplace friendship and job involvement
Job involvement is the degree to which an individual is engaged and absorbed in fulfilling the goals of the firm. It is influenced by the level of job satisfaction that employees feel due to the fulfilment of their intrinsic and extrinsic needs. Positive friendships in the firm are associated with increased job involvement among the employees. Ayazlar & Berrin (2014, p. 321) observed that job involvement is an important factor that determines the time and attention that employees give to the firm. When employees have fulfilling and positive relationships with their co-workers, they portray more job involvement and performance which increases the firm productivity. Employees will be more engaged in fulfilling the company’s objectives when they are involved in organizational activities.
Bicer & Ozan (2017, p. 218) maintained that involved employees are more eager to do their jobs and develop an organizational culture that foster productivity in the firm. Employees who are involved in their workplace duties have a cognitive and emotional connection with their responsibilities which are meant to drive the productivity of the firm up. Involved employees are ready to reciprocate the benefits and support offered by the firm and exert more effort in the realization of organizational goals. Mao et al. (2009, p. 256) suggested that employees who are lowly involved in the job do not show any interest of working hard, report high turnover rates and engage in other activities that do not benefit the firm. Uninvolved employees negatively affect the firm thus developing friendships with such people will end up reducing the performance of individual employee’s hence reduced overall productivity.
Involved employees can use their insights to improve the functioning of the firm. Balaban & Emrah (2014, p. 329) argued that the feelings that people hold about friendships in the firm greatly affect their performance. Workplace friendships fosters both professional and personal relationships among the employees. They also facilitate participation within the firm, motivates employees to serve the purpose of the firm, enhances supportive and innovative environments and increases the productivity of the firm, employee job satisfaction and job involvement. Khaleel et al. (2016, p. 4) maintained that workplace friends share their view points and information regarding the job thus enhancing their productivity. A friendly environment enhances the need for the employees to achieve individual as well as organizational goals which positively affects job involvement within the firm. Employees who are involved in the firm are more attentive towards their jobs since they need to achieve positive outcomes.
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To adhere to the empirical threshold requirements of the study; the researcher will consider choosing a minimum of six companies which will be randomly chosen. An employee chosen from each company will be subject and issued with the interview and an interview schedule.
The research will choose the participants randomly from a randomly selected list of companies. The approach will ascertain a high level of honesty and willingness to provide relevant information. The interview will be conducted moderately while the researcher will use open-ended questions to give a room for discussion and provision of comprehensive answers.
Reliability and validity of the data
Validity and reliability of data refer to the quality, inclusive of its usability for future studies. Reliability is the way in which the information collected from the field will remain intact without any alteration whatsoever. The research will take into account the application of secondary data, case study, and surveys as methods of data collection to ascertain validity and flawlessness of the data obtained from the field.
Since the study will be qualitative, the researcher will consider applying inductive reasoning for interpretation purposes. Besides, the inductive reasoning will provide a platform for deriving tangible meaning for the data collected. Inductive reasoning operates on the premises that data can generate ideologies through hypothesis generation. However, the researcher will consider using a quantitative approach to take care of any secondary data collected from the field. The data will be coded and interpreted using the statistical package for science studies.
Assurance of anonymity will be availed to the participants. The researcher will further consider obtaining informed consent before the commencement of the interviews. The researcher will try to mitigate social responsiveness and responsibility (Artal, and Rubenfeld, 2017). The environment created will be based on respect, competence, and legality. The researcher, therefore, will seek a professional permit for the relevant agencies available within the locality under study.
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- Berman, E. M., West, J. P., & Richter, J. M. N. (2002). Workplace Relations: Friendship Patterns and Consequences (According to Managers). Public Administration Review. 62(2): 217- 230.
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- Khaleel, M., Shankar, C., Jamshed, K., Muhammad, J. and Faryal, M. (2016). Employee Engagement as an Outcome of Friendship at Workplace: Moderating Role of Job Emdeddedness. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences. 6(6): 1- 6.
- Mao, H.-Y., Chen, C.-Y., & Hsieh, T.-H. (2009). The relationship between bureaucracy and workplace friendship. Social Behavior and Personality: An international Journal. 37(2): 255-266.