Friendships at work, a vector of staff retention?

During a recent recruitment process at Iceberg Management, a candidate revealed, in the middle of a selection interview, the importance she places on friendships at work. Even declaring that it was a determining criterion in the final choice of his future employer. This means that intuitively, the latter associated her success at work with her ability to develop professional relationships based on common values ​​and a “friendly” environment.

Affinity as a criterion of choice

The associates welcomed this positioning of the candidate with openness. They rushed to invite him to a team meeting, as is done more and more in workplaces. We are certainly looking for skills and knowledge but also“fit” with the team. Although this selection practice may go against many unwritten dogmas in certain circles, our firm has moved forward! Colleagues were invited to introduce themselves to this candidate. A presentation on both a personal and professional level, briefly summarizing their personality traits and their key values. Revealing and engaging round table which constituted the last test not for the employer but for the candidate.

This approach inspired this article. How to demystify and better recognize interpersonal relationships, “fit”, even friendship at work. How to manage this increasingly omnipresent dimension of organizational success?

Basic human needs

Several analysis models exist in the scientific literature to define and explain the fundamental needs of human beings. Let’s think of Maslow with his pyramid but also of the theory of self-determination. The latter explains the three fundamental psychological needs. One of the needs being the need for social affiliation. This is the need to feel connected and supported in one’s social and professional environment (Deci, 1975). We also think of Patrick Lencioni, an important reference at Iceberg Management for everything related togroup dynamics.

The positive effects of professional friendships

Various literature confirms that a team spirit centered on collegiality and camaraderie can promote creativity, productivity, motivation andloyalty. According to a recent study by Gallup, employees who report having developed one or more friendships at work with their colleagues are less likely to seek employment elsewhere.[1]. This therefore means that companies have an interest in seeing and even encouraging their employees to develop friendly relationships with each other, especially in this era ofbig resignation.

The limits that can be observed

That said, friendship between colleagues can sometimes have perverse effects. Without a doubt, being able to “ventilate” between colleagues about bosses, impossible deadlines or crazy decisions can feel good. However, according to industrial therapist Miriam Kirkmayer[2], when this becomes the only topic of conversation, exchanges become less constructive and can lead to the development of a toxic work climate causing anxiety and depression.

Another example of situations where the friendship between two colleagues can pose challenges is when one of them becomes the supervisor of the other. According to several studies, employees who are friends with their bosses can be ostracized by the rest of the group.[3]Others may think, rightly or wrongly, that the employee has advantages that they do not have or that he or she benefits from special privileges. They may even be reluctant to develop a friendship with this employee-friend of the boss. They might fear that this person will turn into a rapporteur. Finally, certain aspects of the employment relationship may also be more delicate to discuss with an employee when he or she is also a close friend. Let us think, among other things, of the question of salary and that of work performance.

The final word

At the start of 2022 and throughout it, we hope you take quality time as a team. This will allow you to get to know each other better and build, at the very least, “friendly” ties between you.


[1]Annamarie Mann. 2018.Why We Need Best Friends at Work. 

[2] Laforte, M.-È. (2020, February 3). Friendships at work: is it healthy or not?Noovo Me.,des%20sentiments%20d %C3%A9pressure%20and%20anxious

[3] Dayé, M.-A. (2015, August 18). Is being friends with your colleagues and your boss a good idea?Hospitalityjobs.


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