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How Friendly Is Your Team? Why Employee Relationships Are Important for an Organization’s Success

October 15, 2015 by Bruce Jones, Senior Programming Director, Disney Institute

Recently, The New York Times shared this interesting article: Friends at Work? Not So Much. According to the author, the workplace has evolved to become more of a transactional place - one where we have many productive conversations, but fewer meaningful relationships.  Over the years, the number of people who say they have friends at work has steadily declined. According to the article, in 1985, about half of Americans said they had a close friend at work; but by 2004, this was true for only 30 percent.

This fairly dramatic decline made us wonder…how friendly are today’s workplaces? And, how concerned should organizations be about this trend affecting employee engagement and company culture?

We think this is indeed very important, and it provides a real opportunity for organizations to further engage employees in a very meaningful way. At Disney Institute, we believe organizations should strongly encourage peer-to-peer (employee-to-employee) care.

Why? Consider these three thoughts:

  1. Peer-to-peer care creates a genuine sense of community. A “caring community” feels much like a family environment—where the bonds of trust are strong. Plenty of research has shown that workplaces where co-workers trust one another reap the benefits of higher productivity and higher retention. After all, it’s awfully hard to leave a “family” who supports, encourages and has each other’s back.
  2. Peer-to-peer care is “uncontaminated” by any perceived organizational agendas, and can even transcend the workplace to directly impact employees’ personal lives. For instance, Walt Disney World Cast Members sometimes donate unused vacation time to other Cast Members with extenuating circumstances, such as needing to take extended time off to care for a seriously ill family member.
  3. Peer-to-peer care fosters a healthy interdependence between co-workers, leading to an environment of mutual trust and collaboration. And, of course, these are necessary ingredients for creating a thriving workplace culture where creativity, continuous innovation and adaptability can flourish.

Interested in learning more about how genuine care can boost employee engagement and strengthen company culture? Check out one of these other recent posts:

Looking for a more in-depth learning? Consider enrolling in Disney’s Approach to Employee Engagement, our professional development training course that imparts techniques for improving workplace culture through employee training, communication and care.

Tell us – What are some ways you can begin to implement peer-to-peer care your organization?

We’d love to hear from you!
Post your response below, or respond to us on Facebook or Twitter using Hashtag #DThinkBlog.


Disney Institute is ready to help you apply strategic rigor to your customer experience efforts - call us at 321.939.4600 or complete our Contact Form




Posted in Employee Engagement | Tagged Employee Engagement, Culture, Workplace Culture, Company Culture, Organizational Culture, New York Times, Genuine Care, Care Strategy, Productivity, Turnover, Bruce Jones


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