Dealing with Friendships in The Workplace
For a long time, local and regional culture has had an influence on the way organizational operations or activities are carried out. In countries such as Saudi Arabia, local cultures and Islamic religious practices have a significant impact on organizational operations and activities. A common culture in Saudi Arabia revolves around the home and family, where people frequently visit one another. Thus, it should be noted that companies in Saudi Arabia are considered families or homes by employees as well as employers, a perspective that fosters togetherness and unity among workers. Of course, people who share the same local or regional culture, especially at an organization level, will form a certain level of friendship. Research indicates that employee engagement in several organizations, especially in Saudi Arabia, is at an all-time low, and one way of improving this engagement is to foster or enhance friendships among employees. Fostering employee friendship is largely dependent on whether they share a common local or regional culture or not. This paper examines the challenges and benefits of friendship at workplaces in Saudi Arabia.
Employees sharing a common local or regional culture are likely to have fostered friendships at the workplace. A benefit of such friendships in Saudi workplaces is that they foster positive moods as they ensure that employees are happier in their jobs (Noe et al., 2007). Research shows that employees who have friendships with their co-workers are happier than those who do not. The happiness, in turn, paves the way for increased productivity among employees, which is one of the primary factors that determines the success of an organization. Another benefit of friendships for Saudi organizations and companies is that they enhance employee satisfaction as work becomes more fun, enjoyable, and worthwhile for employees having friendships with their co-workers. According to research and surveys, close work friendships boost employee satisfaction by 50 percent and employees with best friends at the workplace are likely to engage and commit to their work fully. It should also be noted that friendships are beneficial at the workplace as they set the stage for the formation of strong social support networks by the employees from personal and professional angles (Noe et al., 2007).
As already mentioned, Saudi Arabia has a common religious culture that brings its citizens, especially employees, together and sets the stage for improved friendships among them. However, such friendships have certain drawbacks or challenges at the workplace. First, Saudi Arabian employers consider too much friendship at the workplace is an impediment to employee productivity because the employees may concentrate on and invest all their time and efforts on friendship at the expense of their productivity (Morrison & Nolan, 2007). Second, friendships at the workplace are challenging in that they may see personal or professional information revealed to inappropriate people (Morrison & Nolan, 2007). Third, a challenge that accompanies friendships at the workplace is that in the case of broken relationships, endless conflicts may be witnessed, and this could further jeopardize organizational operations.
In a nutshell, the formation of friendships among workers is dependent on various factors including whether the workers share a common local or regional culture. At times, workers of a similar socioeconomic class will develop strong relationships. There are various benefits and challenges of friendships in the workplace. Some of the benefits are that they foster positive moods as they ensure that employees are happier in their jobs, enhance employee satisfaction, and set the stage for the formation of strong social support networks. However, the challenges or drawbacks of friendships at the workplace are that they impede employee productivity, may cause revelation of personal or professional information to inappropriate people and may result in conflicts, especially in the case of broken relationships.
Morrison, R. L., & Nolan, T. (2007). Too much of a good thing?: Difficulties with workplace friendships. University of Auckland Business Review, 9(2), 32.
Noe, R. A., Hollenbeck, J. R., Gerhart, B., & Wright, P. M. (2007). Fundamentals of human resource management. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.