A friend on the job can keep you informed on the inner workings of your company, provide feedback on your performance or act as a sounding board. Having a pal at work can make the job more enjoyable and can even enhance the productivity by stirring your creativity. Also friends often can get you new jobs; companies even have programmes to reward employees for referring their friends for employment.
Although finding someone on the job can spark a friendship, whether to invest in the relationship or not is a major issue. As Purna, an advertisement executive says, “You make friends at work and may reveal what you really think about managers, colleagues and the job, thinking that they will not divulge any information to anyone else. But if they are not committed to the friendship, they may let personal information you’ve discussed go beyond the circle of friendship.”
“Workplace friendships are great, but will burn out quickly, too,” says S. Kumar, a bank employee. “If you leave a department or change positions, the circumstances that brought you together will vary and so the friendship.” Lakshmi S, accounts executive differs from this and says that sometimes the casual friendship deepen when one person moves out because then the other one no longer feels inhibited by the environment. “In workplace, it is the same-level friendships that are the easiest to maintain. Problems may arise if one friend has to supervise or evaluate the other. And if you try to befriend the boss, your colleagues may see it in another light. Similarly, if your boss befriends you, he may be accused of showing favouritism,” points out S. Krishnan, an HR executive.
The friendship one develops at work is different from other friendships, says a noted psychologist. “A job provides financial security. If one has to choose between keeping job and friendship, most people would choose to keep their job. While the right group of friends can be a great influence in your career, the wrong group can cost you your job,” he adds.
Then, how to handle friendships at workplace? Be discreet about the confidences you share, and think carefully about the type of information you want to divulge. If the friendship puts you or your friend in a complicated position, then talk about it. Avoid circumstances that might create a conflict situation. Again, too much socialising hampers productivity and revealing personal or professional information can cost you your job.