When it comes to staff retention, we often think of workplaces offering perks like free lunches, flexible working arrangements, gym memberships, bonuses and more. But there’s another benefit that research shows can actually increase productivity and work satisfaction – the work BFF.

It’s a topic that’s quickly gaining ground in research around what drives workplace happiness. More and more studies are showing that employees with a best friend at work tend to be more focused and show more loyalty to the company they work for.

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They’re also less likely to be sick, suffer fewer accidents and change jobs less frequently. In fact, NY Magazine, reporting on a Gallup poll, found that having those you regard as friends versus acquaintances in the workplace is one of the “strongest predictors of productivity.”

Do you want to retain good staff and ensure they feel happy whenever they walk through the door? Try a few of these techniques below.

 

1. Offer an employee referral program

Giving your staff the opportunity to recruit friends and family for open positions in your company is a powerful way to increase engagement and drive retention.

This works in two ways: 1. Your staff will feel like they’re contributing to the company’s future growth, and 2. Not only will referred employees feel more comfortable from day one, studies also show that staff hired via referral stay with companies longer than those recruited through other channels.

 

2. Create an ongoing buddy system

Friends outperform acquaintances when it comes to working together, which is why it’s important that you give your staff as much opportunity as possible to form a bond.

You can do this through team-building activities or implementing an ongoing “buddy system.” Pair staff up according to matching star-signs or have them complete a test like Myers Briggs and match them up through personality compatibility. Have them schedule in a coffee break or walking meeting once a fortnight in order to get to know each other.

 

3. Encourage employees to socialise

Whether it’s organising offsites, team lunches or friday night office drinks, it’s pretty clear that socialising with coworkers is essential for career happiness.

Take it from the experts. Alexander Kjerulf, author and speaker on happiness at work, told Forbes: “if you’re not able to relate to your coworkers as human beings and build positive relationships, your career will suffer. Socialising and getting to know them as people will help you to communicate better, trust each other more and work better together.”

So there you have it. Don’t crack down on those long conversations in the kitchen, ‘cause turns out they could actually be good for your business.

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Does your company encourage the work BFF?