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Candidates with a diverse social circle make better employees

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Next time you are hiring candidates, don’t forget to check out their friends.

According to a new study from The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, employees with a racially diverse group of friends outside of work may actually perform better at their jobs.

Polling 222 people who worked in customer service centers at a large financial institution, the study found that 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, co-author of the study and associate professor of management and human resources at The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business.

“They’re more likely to see their ingroup – 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 ingroups,” Wilk said.

ALSO READ: Diversity isn’t about representation, say Millennials

“That means they are being helpful to more of their work colleagues. Supervisors notice that.”

Supervisors rated all of their employees on how much they created team spirit and went beyond their roles to help the company. For example, one question asked supervisors to rate their employees on a scale of 1 to 5 on “This person has done more work than required.”

Workers with more friends of different races outside of work scored higher on these scales, Wilk said.

The reason was that these were the same employees who created more diverse friend networks on the job and thus who had a broader ingroup of people to help.

The study added employees who had a racially diverse group of friends were more likely to trust supervisors who also had a diverse friend network.

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