Being BFFs with your coworkers pays dividends

If you don’t want to be pals with your coworkers, don’t bother applying for a job at Mekanism.

“The old adage about keeping your personal and work lives separate is outdated,” says Jason Harris, president and CEO of the Financial District-based creative services agency. In fact, you might not even get an interview at Mekanism unless you have a personal connection to someone who works there.

“We only hire friends, friends of employees and friends of friends,” says Harris, who is 46 and lives in Lower Manhattan. He says that at a high-pressure, always-on company like his, people have to like each other and want to spend time together.

“If you want to clock out at the end of the day and leave your work and your co-workers behind, you won’t succeed here. This is not the right place for you,” he says.

But it is the perfect place for Melissa Hill, 35, who also lives in Lower Manhattan. She shares meals with her colleagues, they hang out on weekends, go to the movies and have parties. They not only celebrate the good times but also have each other’s backs.

When Hill’s romantic relationship of three years ended, “everybody — even the CEO — knew about it,” she says. But instead of having to come into the office pretending not to be devastated, Hill says that Harris gave her a week off to make her peace with the breakup.

“That’s part of the culture here,” she says.

Melissa Hill and Jason HarrisMekanism

While not all wage earners are this closely bonded to each other, 62 percent of employees say that being buddies with co-workers outside the workplace is beneficial, according to a recent survey conducted by Accountemps.

Experts such as Rich Deosingh, a senior regional vice president at Robert Half International, agree. He says that people who work with friends tend to be more comfortable and productive, often get their work done ahead of schedule, and are easier to retain.

Having a pal at the office might also be a key to your overall happiness, according to Annie McKee, author of “How To Be Happy at Work” (Harvard Business Review Press, out now).

“Going to your job with blinders on, focused only on the task at hand, doesn’t serve you,” she says, adding that we spend too much time at work to leave an important part of who we are, and our happiness, outside the door.

McKee advocates for something called “companionate love,” which reaches beyond the watercooler and renders relationships where people are safe…

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