It’s the only question I can remember from any employee satisfaction survey I’ve ever taken. And it was over 10 years ago.
“Do You Have a Best Friend at Work?”
I remember it because at the time it just seemed so out of left field. Employee satisfaction surveys were supposed to have long and boring questions like “On a scale of 1 to 7, how would you rate the interdepartmental communication effectiveness of your manager’s manager as it relates to the eight core values of our company?”
“Do You Have a Best Friend at Work” was simple to answer. And apparently effective. According to the Gallup organization, who asked this infamous question now millions of times, those employees WITH a best friend at work are much more likely to be engaged in their job and more dedicated to serving customers.
To Friend or Not To Friend
Which begs a few interesting questions. If I were running a company, wouldn’t I do everything in my power to make sure employees were developing meaningful relationships with their coworkers? From an employee perspective, wouldn’t it make sense to try and cultivate those “best friend-ships”, if it helps me jump out of bed in the morning and get to work?
There’s a tool out there that’s pretty good at doing this. Facebook.
And yet, if you ask both senior leaders and average employees how they view Facebook in the workplace, the answers vary wildly. It seems no one (especially at larger, conservative companies) has a great feel for how to properly encourage or engage in the “friending” of coworkers.
The 3 Types of Workplace “Frienders”
Much of the issue lies in the fact that a lot of us use Facebook differently. Trying to get to the root of the problem, I actually did some hardcore research this week (okay, I asked several Facebook friends and coworkers) and from what I can tell there 3 broad types of viewpoints on friending in the workplace.
Type #1: The Agnostic
- These folks believe in a total separation of “work and like”.
- They don’t put their employer on their FB profile
- Will typically ignore friends request from coworkers
- Claim to use LinkedIn for connecting with coworkers (i.e. very little)
- Probably have a lot of Dilbert cartoons hanging up in their cubicle or office (I kid, I kid!!)
Type #2: The Dabblers
- This group selectively friends coworkers only after several months of working together or a fun night out drinking
- They typically only friend peers and subordinates
- They view Facebook’s lists and privacy settings as too cumbersome to manage, hence the selectivity in friending
- They secretly search friended coworkers photo libraries for damning evidence if one day needed (again, I kid! )
Type #3: The Open Books
- This group friends any coworker they’ve had longer than 10 minute conversations with in hopes of building workplace friendships (and padding friend number totals)
- They typically have all their activities posted to Facebook – songs listened to on Spotify, videos watched on SocialCam, articles read on Yahoo!, etc
- They view themselves as a single being. Not “Work Joe” from 9-5, then “Home Joe” all other times. Just “Joe”.
- They most likely opened a Facebook account with their “.edu” email address
So What Should You Do?
The issue gets tricky as the 3 types of workplace frienders (or non frienders) start co-mingling more and more online as a result of the overall ubiquity of social media (1/7th of humanity is now active on social networks).
Now I can’t say that everyone should add more coworkers as friends on Facebook. I myself just made the switch from an Agnostic to a Dabbler this year. But I will say that you should expect to see and plan for more coworkers friending each other and inviting you to connect on Facebook.
And if you believe that better friendships at work can make you work better…then Facebook might just be an answer in being more satisfied in your job, developing more coworkers as allies and who knows, maybe revitalizing your career in the process.
Should We Ditch the Idea of Privacy – For the Agnostics, here’s an interesting case for becoming more transparent online with assumptions that publicness makes us better people due to greater personal accountability and increased societal tolerance.
How to Use Facebook Lists – For the Dabblers, if you want to connect with more coworkers but only share certain things, you have to be comfortable with the List feature. Since Facebook is a dynamic platform, I recommend visiting their Help Center directly since it’s likely up to date with their most current changes.
17 People Who Were Fired For Using Facebook – For the Open Books, watch this slideshow of people who shared a little “too much” information on Facebook and just remember to think before you update that status.
Any good tips on how to navigate friending in the workplace? We’d love to hear them, so drop us a comment.