Having a racially diverse set of friends outside of the work environment could help people perform better at their job, suggests a new study.
Workers who had more different-race friends in their personal lives than their co-workers also tended to have a more racially diverse network of friends on the job.
"Your friends outside of work actually have this connection to how you behave in the workplace, through the shaping of your relationships on the job," said Steffanie Wilk, associate professor of management and human resources at the Ohio State University.
This broader network was linked to employees who did more tasks beyond their job responsibilities and who, under certain circumstances, had more trust in their supervisors.
People with diverse friend networks in their personal lives tend to build similarly diverse networks in their workplaces.
"They are more likely to see their in-group - the people they most identify with - as a broader group of people which includes those of different racial backgrounds. And we tend to help people in our in-groups," Wilk noted.
The study involved 222 people who worked in customer service centers at a large financial institution.
These employees worked with customers to fix problems and sell products.
Results showed that people who had more different-race friends outside of work also had a more diverse group of friends among their co-workers - even after taking into account how many different-race colleagues they had in their immediate work group.
Having a diverse friend network outside work paid dividends on the job, the study showed.
The researchers also found that employees who had a racially diverse group of friends were more likely to trust supervisors who also had a diverse friend network.
The research, published online in the journal Organization Science
, shows yet another way that employees' personal lives affect their work lives.