Psychology and Relationships

63% of Gen Z workers have a best friend in the office—there are 2 potential drawbacks, experts say

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More than half, 51%, of all workers and 63% of Gen Z workers say they have a best friend at their job, according to a recent Glassdoor survey

Those polled reported some pretty crucial mental health benefits for having an office bestie:  support and enjoyment in the workplace were among the top two pros, followed by stress relief. 

When forging relationships in the office, you need to remember that the stakes are different, says Glassdoor chief economist Aaron Terrazas. 

"Workplace friendships will never be the same as friendships outside the workplace, and it's important to keep in mind that you may need to continue working with work friends even after a friendship sours," he says. 

Here are two potential drawbacks to having a best friend at work, and how to manage each situation. 

1. One of you could become the other's boss 

You or your friend might be promoted and expected to manage the other. 

"Navigating those transitions is never uncomplicated," Terrazas says. 

If you are promoted to be your friend's boss, it's best to address the change right away, says Brandon Smith, a therapist and career coach known as The Workplace Therapist. 

"Before the announcement or right after the announcement, take them for a drink and spend some time talking about it," he says. 

The conversation should do two things: reaffirm the relationship and discuss how it's going to change. 

"Invite them to help you craft the changes involved," he says. "How they want to be communicated with, how they want to be supported, how you can still maintain the friendship. What will that look like on an everyday  basis?" 

By getting in front of it, you can hopefully manage any future misunderstandings. 

Workplace friendships will never be the same as friendships outside the workplace.
Aaron Terrazas
Glassdoor chief economist

2. It's hard to maintain discretion 

If you have an office best friend, you're likely telling them what you think of other co-workers. 

Instead of diving head-first into your opinions, share your perspective in a more nuanced way, Smith says. 

"Don't say, 'I hate Susan,'" he says, "Instead say, 'I've noticed these qualities about Susan, have you?'" 

He also suggests implementing the "Las Vegas Rule." 

If you go out for lunch or a post-work happy hour, start the conversation by saying, "What's said here, stays here," he says. 

This way you've made it clear that you don't want your opinions repeated in the office. 

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