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SUNDAY, JUNE 24, 2007
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Work friendships keep staff happy, producing more

By Jackie Farwell
AP Business Writer

Next time you grab drinks after work with your office mates, ask to put the bill on the company tab. According to a new survey, you’re boosting productivity while you sip that pint.

More than half of executives and 63 percent of employees report that job performance improves when co-workers are friends outside the office.

Employees who have buddies at work are more eager to come to the office and enjoy their workday, which translates to higher productivity, said David Araldi of the staffing firm Accountemps, which conducted the nonscientific survey.

“One of the main reasons people decide to stay at an organization is because of who they’re working with and working for,” he said.

Excessive chumminess can lead to workplace cliques, however, or stifle brainstorming among friends who don’t want to compete with each other, Araldi said.

Strong work relationships don’t have to develop over a beer at the local pub, either. Management and staff can work together during office hours to communicate responsibilities and check progress, he said.

The survey included responses from 150 senior executives with the nation’s 1,000 largest companies and more than 500 full- or part-time office workers.

Need job. Can u help?

Thanks to technology, new graduates have a few more tools in their job-hunting belts. Instant messaging and text messaging are the new networking go-tos — but exercise some caution before you hit send.

Job seekers can enlist the help of friends, classmates and family members in their instant and text message contact lists in their work search, said Greg Gostanian of the outplacement firm ClearRock. Those people can then lead to commonly overlooked networking contacts, such as doctors, clergy and hairstylists.

While instant and text messaging are quick and convenient forms of communication, they’re not acceptable when asking for a meeting or job interview with someone you don’t know well, Gostanian said.

Even if you get your hands on someone’s text address or instant message name, don’t make initial contact that way. Unsolicited messages are often unwelcome and likely will wind up in the delete bin.

“I don’t think there’s any substitute when you’re networking for a phone conversation,” Gostanian said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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