Vital Friends

Author: Tom Rath
Price: £12.05
Publisher: Gallup Press
Pages: 272
ISBN: 1595620079

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Vital Friends draws on research to show the importance of friendship in life and work. Some of the statistics are quite thought-provoking. For example, people with a best friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their job.

If there is a causal link between friendship and engagement, those companies that discourage social activity in the workplace could be missing out on an important part of employee engagement, argues Rath.

While companies tend to focus a lot of energy on individual development and teamwork skills, one-to-one relationships are rarely considered. Yet, these relationships may be crucial the book claims that employees who have a close friendship with their manager are 2.5 times more likely to be satisfied with their job.

Vital Friends proposes that the way to develop friendships is to focus on the contribution each friend makes. As people may struggle to articulate exactly what a friendship brings, the last part of the book describes eight ‘vital’ roles that friends may take, such as companion, champion and energiser.

In conjunction with the book, there is a website (, which allows you to perform a short assessment on each friend to determine the key roles they perform. From there you can compile a database of friends. Personally, I find the idea of this a bit distasteful, but it may appeal to some.

For me, the key message in the book was to recognise and appreciate a friend’s unique contribution (as opposed to expecting them to contribute in all ways).

Useful? Three out of five stars
Well-written? Three out of five stars
Practical? Two out of five stars
Inspirational? Two out of five stars
Value for money? Two out of five stars
Overall? Three out of five stars

Reviewed by S Hart, director of compensation and benefits, Europe and Asia, ArvinMeritor

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