Discovery Surveys, Inc.
Specializing in Employee Opinion and Customer Satisfaction Surveys
Improving the Workplace

By Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. President, Discovery Surveys, Inc.


"Friends" at work are very important to us.

When I conduct outplacement workshops and ask employees, "now that you have lost your job, what is going to be the most difficult thing you will have to replace?" They always say, "the people."

When I conduct focus groups of employees prior to conducting employee surveys, often they complain endlessly about poor management, lack of communication, and poor cooperation among coworkers and departments. But then I ask, "Why do you still work here despite all of the negative things you've said about this organization?" 100 percent of the time, they say, "because of the people."

But think about how many real friends you have KEPT from past jobs you've held. It's probably very few if any at all.

Why is this?

The reason is because they were not real friends. They were merely acquaintances, friends of convenience, and people who helped you make sense of the confusing reality of organizational life. You shared a common experience and provided each other with emotional support. When you met at the coffee pot or in the cafeteria you talked about what you had in common - the work, your boss, the organization. Once you left, you learned that was pretty much all you had in common. It's a very sobering experience.

Is this a problem for organizations? Probably not, but it is certainly a problem for individuals trying to make real connections with others and long-lasting relationships.

A good friend of mine, a physician, after many years recently left his small medical practice. Many of his colleagues said they would miss him. But there was no pomp and ceremony when he left. Although his partners and a few others said they would keep in touch, he knew this was a hollow promise. This made him sad.

But it doesn't have to be this way. You spend 8-12 hours a day with your colleagues. You develop camaraderie, a kinship, and mutual respect. You enjoy each other's company and feel safe and secure when you share time and your inner thoughts. Wouldn't it be nice if you could expand these relationships outside of work? Who says that your work and non-work lives need to be separate? We would all be much happier if the connections we make at work last for the rest of our lives.



  1. Share

    Make it a point to talk to your work friends about non-work topics. Ask them what's happening in their lives outside of work. Be willing to self-disclose about your own life as well. This is what real friends do.

  2. Get Together Outside of Work

    If there are people at work who you would like to get to know better, spend some quality time with them outside of the work place. Pursue your common interests.

  3. Involve Your Significant Others and Families

    I am always envious of the very close relationships that my career military friends have made over the years. What they all have in common is that they expanded their relationships with their colleagues to include their families.

  4. Work at the Relationships

    It's like anything else. You will get more out of your relationships if you put more into them. Spend the time and energy to get to know them better and share more time together outside of the office.


Work friends can become real friends.

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