Read the employee handbook at just about any company on the planet and you'll likely see the firm's workforce described as a "family." A lovely thought, to be sure, but one that may not ring true in this era of mass layoffs-- er, "downsizing" --and insecurity.
So maybe it's time for a new organizational metaphor. How about this: Think of the workplace as a social gathering. A cocktail party or a summer picnic.
Yes, we're exaggerating--but only a little. According to Christine Riordan, Ph. D., workers report higher job satisfaction when they feel the opportunity for friendships exists at work. It doesn't matter whether they actually have a friend on the job--they just need to know that the possibility exists.
"Friendship in the workplace may be severely underrated as a way to increase organizational effectiveness," contends Riordan, professor of management at the University of Georgia. Studying employees at a utility firms, Riordan found that everyone from clerks to managers was happier when the office was buddy-rich.