Friends at Work: Creating Connections for a Happy and Thriving Workplace

Having friends at work boosts employee engagement, loyalty, and overall happiness.

Friends enjoy laughs together, support and help one another, and push each other to be better versions of themselves. And perhaps occasionally even thrive on a little healthy competition.

Organizations that provide opportunities for employees to playfully connect, bond, and build workplace friendships are companies people enjoy working for.

Employees value the connections and bonds they build and the positive work environment these friendships foster.

Sadly, not all companies get it…

Meet Sandeep

Sandeep Khembavi, Manager, Fincnail Planning & Analytics in Finance at JAM. Sandeep's sitting in the on a beach volleyball court wearing a JAM hat and t-shirt that says "Adult recess... It's a thing."
Sandeep Khembavi started at JAM as an Operations Associate and is now the Manager of Financial Planning & Analytics in Finance.

Sandeep is on our leadership team and has worked on the JAM team for about 8.5 years now – or is it 9.5 years??

It’s a bit confusing, let me explain.

Sandeep started as an Operations Associate and worked his way up to being a leader on our Finance Team. 

He is hard working, ethical, humble and hilarious. He also happens to be a fabulous all-round athlete which always makes him a popular choice for our company sports teams. 

Suffice to say, Sandeep is a great friend to many on our JAM team. And a beloved teammate inside our fun and driven company culture.

JAM Corporate beach volleyball team. Fun fact: JAM’s Director of People and Culture, Nurissa McWilliams (3rd from R) recently married Evan (far L). And Sandeep (2nd from R) was the emcee at her wedding.

The reason it’s hard to track how long Sandeep’s been on the team? A 9-month period we affectionately refer to as his “sabbatical.”

In December 2020, JAM was in the tenth month of government-mandated shutdowns, due to the global pandemic. Sandeep made the tough decision to pursue a new career elsewhere. Somewhere he felt he’d gain new experience and be able to earn a larger salary.

This was a heart-wrenching moment for our team. But we also completely understood his need to keep learning and growing.

I shared with Sandeep that while we were incredibly sad to be losing him, we wished him only the best. And if he ever wanted to come back to JAM, there would always be a place for him at JAM.

Over 27 years of running JAM, we have had many teammates come and go. And because we have a lot of fun with our work, I often develop friendships with many of my team. If they move on, I do my best to keep in touch.

After Sandeep had been gone for a few months, I sent him a text to check in. I was shocked to read his reply.

He’s always been a very positive, optimistic individual. He was miserable at his new job and was submitting his resignation that week… With no job to move on to.

He shared with me that his new workplace had no culture. There was no camaraderie or workplace friendships among his colleagues. No one seemed to care about each other’s happiness or well-being.

As he said it: I’m making more money, but I’m miserable.”

Fast forward a few months and Sandeep is now back on our JAM team… We couldn’t happier!

A larger salary couldn’t replace the sense of purpose or the friendships and connections he had at JAM.

How Friends at Work Benefit Your Company


Friendships fostered at work through fun and play, create a tight-knit team that are more loyal to your organization. And more engaged and more productive!

Cultural nuances include a more empathetic and supportive environment. Teammates are more willing to help one another. Communication flows more easily. Colleagues are more trusting and able to show more vulnerability when they need help trying to solve problems that arise in your business.

According to Time Magazine, workplace friendships boost job satisfaction and performance. It also lowers the risk of burnout, improves mental health and helps with a longer life span. Studies have shown that the loneliness from lack of friendships is equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day! That causes an increased risk of heart disease, depression and cognitive decline – yikes!

When you PLAY at work, You make FRIENDS at work

JAM corporate softball team. They are wearing white tshirts with the JAM logo and popular "You just got JAMmed" meme from the TV show, Parks & Rec. The team is posing with a hip popped out and a finger point, imitating the meme
JAM’s corporate softball team, You Just Got JAMmed. The name (and pose) is inspired by the popular meme from the TV Show, Parks & Rec – and of course, JAM Sports.

When we were kids, we were happier going to school if we had a fun group of friends. Playing outside at recess was usually the best part of the school day. Of course, we still had to go to class, learn, and do work, but doing the work together with our friends made it easier and more engaging.

If you didn’t have good friends, you probably weren’t as happy about going to school. Strong friendships helped to make school enjoyable; a climate of hostility or isolation made us want to stay home.

And the same holds true for adults in the workplace. We are happier going to work when we consider our colleagues friends.

When we play together, we get to know one another on a more personal level. Playing, laughing and having fun is how friendships and bonds develop and improve. This sparks happiness, a sense of belonging and meaningful connections that leads to many other benefits for your organization.

Intentional play at work creates a culture that benefits all employees’ physical and mental health and a company’s bottom line. In this modern era of hybrid and remote work cultures, making connections through watercooler whispers isn’t as easy. Hosting playful team building events, whether virtually or in-person, brings your people together for infections fun and grows relationships organically.

Let’s wrap this up!

Kristi Herold and 5 of her work friends (JAM teammates) form a human pyramid. They are wearing yellow JAM t-shirts.

Workplace friendships make us feel good and happier to be at work. And it’s a fact that happier employees are more:

  • Productive
  • Engaged
  • Loyal
  • Creative

And deliver better service to customers.

Start a meeting by sharing silly jokes. Get your team cheering and routing together by playing on a company sports team. Guarantee some lunchtime laughs with a virtual event like a game show or an escape room. These are all perfect ways to break down barriers and foster friendships amongst your team. 

Integrate PLAY into your workPLAYce culture is an investment in fostering friends at work, and this investment will pay dividends!

Wanna PLAY?

Bring your people together for lively, challenging, infectious play that grows relationships organically. Set your company up with a JAM corporate sports team. Or book a fun virtual or in-person team-building event that strengthens your team from the inside out. 

Get in touch with one of our JAM Playmakers here and learn how you can build a foundation of consistent, repeatable PLAY while increasing profits.

It really does PAY to PLAY!

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