Friendship has no biological purpose, no economic status, no evolutionary meaning.  But a new friend can reintroduce a woman to herself, allowing her to look at herself with a new pair of eyes and a new mindset … Flaws can be recast as strengths, self-doubts lifted by acceptance … Friends are more likely than family to encourage change.

— Ellen Goodman, Patricia O’Brien

Friends are important.  They matter.

Especially at work.

If you have a best friend at work, you are seven times more likely to be engaged at work than those of us who don’t, according to a research study by Tom Rath and his team at The Gallup Organization.

The study revealed that employees who report having a best friend at work were:

  • 43% more likely to report having received praise or recognition for their work in the last seven days.
  • 37% more likely to report that someone at work encourages their development.
  • 35% more likely to report coworker commitment to quality.
  • 28% more likely to report that in the last six months, someone at work has talked to them about their progress.
  • 27% more likely to report that the mission of their company makes them feel their job is important.
  • 27% more likely to report that their opinions seem to count at work.
  • 21% more likely to report that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day.

It’s no surprise, then, that “I have a best friend at work” is one of twelve traits of highly productive work groups.  Employees’ relationships is pretty important to engagement, retention, and loyalty; friends at work help with the stress and challenge that come with change.

So, while they might not have a biological or evolutionary purpose, friendships at work are good for business.

You and I both know there are exceptions.  Sometimes, friends complicate things. Friends “unfriending” isn’t pretty.  The work group suffers, and the work suffers.

But, for the most part, employees having a best friend or two at work is a very good thing, all around.

But you know what may not be a very good thing?

Family at work.