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Office fallout: 1 in 3 employers dealing with issues after work friendships turn bad

Nine out of 10 (86%) employers believe strong work relationships make it easier to retain staff, with employers overwhelmingly agreeing (70%) that it’s healthy for employees to have a ‘work spouse’, according to new research released from totaljobs.

  • 92% of employers say strong work relationships make people more engaged with their job, according to totaljobs
  • 86% of employers say they make it easier to retain staff
  • But when they go wrong, 33% of employers have dealt with employee issues including bullying and resignations

Nine out of 10 (86%) employers believe strong work relationships make it easier to retain staff, with employers overwhelmingly agreeing (70%) that it’s healthy for employees to have a ‘work spouse’, according to new research released from totaljobs.

The research, which explores the growing ‘work spouse’ trend (employees having one person they are particularly close to at work) analysed feedback from over 4,000 employees and 103 employers.

Nearly all employers (92%) say strong relationships make people more engaged with their jobs, while 96% say they create a happier workplace.

Work relationship ‘break ups’ are fraught with problems

But 33% of employers’ report that they have had to deal with employee issues after work friendships have gone bad.

After work friendship sours between employees, nearly half (41%) of employers say work and productivity was negatively impacted. Over a third (38%) witnessed bullying behaviour in the workplace and the same number again say office rumours spread through the company (38%).

Worryingly, a quarter of employers (26%) say employees took stress or sick leave because of a breakdown in work friendships, while one in four (26%) say employees even ended up resigning.

Creating positive work relationships

The value of work friendships to the workplace has not gone unnoticed, with four in five (80%) employers saying strong work friendships are important. But what about those employees that don’t seem to make friends at work?

Employers have different ways of handling this, with most trying to get employees to bond through work and team projects (47%). A further 19% of employers speak with employees to understand why they are isolated, while 23% of employers choose to leave them alone.

Matthew Harradine, director at totaljobs, said: “The overwhelming majority of employers are telling us that happy employees are more engaged and productive. The question then is how do employers create a happy environment for staff and cultivate the best conditions for productivity to thrive? Good working relationships are certainly an important part of this, and be it through ‘away days’, communal areas, or other means, there are certainly many options open to employers.”

If friendships do blossom in the workplace, most employers (70%) say its positive for the broader team to see others getting along. However, one in five (20%) do point out that ‘work spouses’ can isolate other members of the team who don’t feel included.