Friendships in the Workplace

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If you are interested in pursuing an online business degree to improve your leadership skills and advance your career opportunities, understanding the complex dynamics of workplace relationships is key. One study, co-authored by UAB Collat School of Business Associate Professor Anthony Hood, specifically explores the benefits and risks of friendships in workplace groups.

Effects of Relationships in the Workplace

The study highlights multiplex relationships, which involve more than one type of interrelationship between two people, and how they can create a compound and complex rapport for people who are both friends and co-workers. Some of the results that these multiplex relationships can create include:

  • High levels of trust
  • Mutual exchange of social resources
  • Emotional intensity
  • Sense of personal identity
  • Feelings of belonging
  • Shared history outside of work

These positive feelings come along with both benefits and risks to workplace cohesion and productivity.

Benefits and Risks of Friend/Coworker Relationships

Friendships can generate familiarity and bonding, which can lead to increased productivity and team effectiveness. People can also readily trust those to whom they relate well, and therefore can enjoy streamlined communication during team problem solving exercises.

However, juggling the complexities of dual bonds can strain personal resources like time and emotional energy and therefore negatively impact work performance. Antagonisms may even form among team members. Further, some employees may begin to feel marginalized by the group, and business relationships can suffer in the long term.

This is just a small sampling of the benefits and risks of these relationships. View the infographic below for more:

Managing workplace conflict

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