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CultureOct 12, 2016

Life at Credera: Should We Have Friendships and Fun at Work?

Carlos Bernal, Trent Sutton, Pete Gekas, and Lauren King

Is it wise to separate and compartmentalize our personal and professional lives? That is exactly what many of us have been taught. Our nights and weekends are for family and friends, while our days are for clients and colleagues. We leave our interests and deep connections at home and pick up our pens and notepads at the office.

Gallup recently reported that only 10% of employees without a best friend at the office have a strong connection with their company. In comparison, 50% of employees who have a best friend at work feel a strong connection with their company and are seven times more likely to fully engage. However, only 30% of US employees are considered engaged at the office. Clearly there is a disconnect. Separating our personal and professional lives is a mistake. We need deep friendships at work. Workplace friendships improve engagement and employees gain a sense of connectedness and increase in their overall happiness. Everyone wins.

Data aside, the quality of our lives would be compromised if we did not connect and engage at the office. It is depressing to consider the idea of work as the “funless” zone. Like it or not our work is where we spend a significant portion of our adult lives. When people thrive, companies thrive. And when workplace friendships boost satisfaction by 50%, friendships are something we must continue to invest in.

Friendships here are not a “business initiative” rolled out by the management team. They can’t be. They would not be organic or authentic. From the newest hire to the founder, an intern to senior manager, Crederians choose to invest in friendships. Daily, we see employees creating opportunities for fun with one another before, during, and after work. Yes, the “business” can create an environment that encourages relationships in and out of the office, but it’s the individual who makes this commitment a reality.

10 things that have fostered friendships and fun:

  1. Talk about it, and then do it – The more we talk about how important friendships are, the more we understand their importance and begin to act. We encourage one another to become friends. We commonly greet, refer to, and introduce one another as, “friend.”

  2. Join a team – Become a part of a smaller “team” or group. This makes it easier to connect with one another. Some of the many groups at Credera include project teams, practices, functional areas, new hire “classes,” Credera Women’s Network, intramural teams, and more. When we introduce a new employee at a monthly company meeting, alumni from their alma mater (and many of the other employees) join in on their university yell. Even this simple act creates a sense of camaraderie.

  3. Participate in meaningful experiences – Make memories to look back on and look forward to. Credera Company Trip, Night at the Ballpark, practice retreats, and many smaller events are talked about all year long.

  4. Laugh together – It’s common to hear laughter throughout the office and at our larger gatherings. We expect to laugh at our monthly company meetings as many employees play a Credera-version of Bingo and “farkle losers” perform embarrassing tasks. New hires introduce themselves and share a fun fact, a few of which are laughter-inducing stories.

  5. Create healthy competition – Doubles pong tournaments, March Madness brackets, Fantasy Football, monthly competitions between practices and board games are all examples of ways we connect with one another.

  6. Celebrate together – Crederians love to celebrate accomplishments and milestones. Instead of one big monthly or weekly email, individual emails are sent announcing birthdays, weddings, and babies. We love champagne toasts, but this touch shows individuals are special and valued.

  7. Be real – Friendships must be based in the reality that we are all different. No two people are the same and this must be appreciated. Regardless of religious belief, political preference or worldview we accept and appreciate one anothers differences. We are free to share our views and we accept, love and encourage one another to continue to grow in and live out the Credera values of humility, integrity, excellence and professionalism.

  8. Gather around something – We like to gather around a table, projector-screen fireplace, board game, whatever it is. It’s important to circle up. When all else fails, food works especially well. As one of our employees noted, “Whenever there’s food involved, there’s a high participation rate.” Although this sounds funny, it’s actually true. Providing food seems to bring people out and when people come out, they interact with one another. Food makes people happy. It’s a fact.

  9. Get out of the office together – We go to lunch, coffee, sporting events and movies. Teams go to dinner, new hire classes have reunions, and friends get involved in local organizations together. It’s common for employees and their families to take vacation together. Our Denver employees love hosting Dallas employees for board games and beer when they’re in town.

  10. Genuinely take interest in one another – We see employees catching up and going deeper than surface-level. It’s inspiring to watch employees support one another emotionally, physically, and financially, when tough times come. And intentional and thoughtful conversations are important, even the tough ones.

the important question: where can we grow in the area of friendships and fun?

We need to continue working on “entering the danger” in our friendships. It’s difficult to share the kind truth with friends, but an important part of friendship growth. We are learning to trust the relationship and believe the best in one another so we can have challenging conversations that lead to both personal and professional growth. The best friendships are those where we are completely honest with one another. Super high levels of trust are created when we are both honest and kind.

Another area for growth is increasing cross-office friendships and opportunities for corporate employees and consultants to interact. Many events are in place for this, but we need to continue to grow and become intentional about this in the future.

What have you seen encourage friendships and fun in your company? Where do you see us needing to grow when it comes to friendships and fun in 2017?

life at credera

We’re “open-sourcing” the Credera day-to-day in a series called Life at Credera. As we share an authentic look at Credera’s culture – what we are learning, where we are growing, and our experiences – we will take action instead of promoting theory and provide specific examples of our commitment to getting better. We’ll talk about friendships & fun, growth, higher purpose, talent & character, leadership, and communication. Come join the journey of Life at Credera!

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