Gone are the days of keeping a clear and distinct line between our professional and personal lives. Many employees’ days do not end when they step out of the office door – emails will be checked and last-minute touches will be made to the latest deck. We’ve moved from this idea of work/life balance to work/life integration, but how do we successfully combine the two without feeling overwhelmed?

Friendships at work may be the key to unlocking the right amount of work/life integration. Because so many of our waking hours are spent in the work mindset, it’s important to feel supported by those we care about. Having a close friend at work has been shown to be essential in how much effort employees put in and how they feel. A Gallup study shows women who strongly agree they have a best friend at work are more than twice as likely to be engaged (63%) compared with the women who don’t (29%).

Not only does having friendships impact engagement, but also how long your employees are staying around. A study found that 75% of employees who had a best friend at work planned to stay in their organizations for at least another year, compared with 51% who didn’t have a best friend.

Call it what you want – work/life balance, integration, harmony. But the reality of the matter is that human beings thrive on connection, and fostering connections during the majority of our day only makes sense. However, only 5% of employees feel their companies do enough to drive relationships in the organization. It’s time to address the employee experience in a more holistic way, and acknowledge that socializing at work is a key component of productivity, creativity, and happiness.

Looking for a way to grow relationships at work? Request a demo of Five to Nine’s culture engagement solution.