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How Employee Recognition Can Help Kill Office Cliques

November 27, 2018
| ByJulia Pinzler

Many people want to form close bonds with their colleagues. However, some types of relationships in the workplace can actually harm your business. Workplace cliques are close-knit groups of employees who socialize inside and sometimes outside of work, while at the same time excluding other co-workers from this socialization. While it is important for employees to form bonds with their colleagues, office cliques can lead to disengagement of other employees, a breakdown in company culture and other negative effects.

Ways Workplace Cliques Harm the Company Culture

Here are five ways cliques can put a strain on your organization and how employee recognition can help.

1. They Do Not Socialize Outside Their Group

Workplace cliques can isolate members of the team because they do not typically socialize outside their group. Working with the same group of people each day can limit the creativity and insight of the individual members of the team, which can lead to a lack of diversity in thought and innovation.

In extreme cases, the clique may be more concerned about itself than the company, which can hinder productivity. Because members of the clique do not socialize with others, they may even be reluctant to work with others. If management gives employees the option to form their own teams, cliques usually stick together.

2. Workplace Cliques Ostracize Other Employees

Workplace cliques can interfere with a harmonious office environment. They may actively try to exclude others from their group, have inside jokes or may act as a unit against other employees.

This can feel polarizing for other coworkers who are having a hard time connecting with their colleagues. Some employees may feel singled out and not part of the team, while others may be distracted at work and try too hard to become part of the group instead of focusing on their job duties.

3. They Change the Way Others Perceive Workers

When employees are part of an office clique, they are often perceived as a unit. Other workers and management may characterize each individual in the same manner, whether that is positive or negative. They may be thought of as arrogant, standoffish, uncooperative, competitive or bold. These perceptions are not always accurate, but individual differences get ignored when dealing with workplace cliques.

4. They Discourage Individuality

Workplace cliques often discourage autonomy. Members of the clique may feel it is necessary to get permission or feedback from others in the clique, rather than relying on their own motivations, beliefs or values. Conforming to the beliefs and attitudes within the group can limit the creative process, discourage individual perspectives and suppress the exchange of original ideas necessary for innovation and originality.

How Can Employee Recognition Help?
Understanding the threat that office cliques pose to a business can help stakeholders develop strategies to banish them from the workplace.

Peer-to-peer recognition is an effective way to encourage harmony in the workplace and a feeling of belonging amongst peers. Encouraging peer-to-peer recognition establishes a positive attitude for the company culture and focuses on accomplishing goals together as a team. When employees act as a team, they can destroy the bonds of office cliques. 

Some of the benefits of employee recognition relative to workplace cliques include:

  • Encourages Creativity – Employee recognition encourages creativity, new ideas and the importance of forming new bonds in the workplace. Business owners can discourage the like-mindedness that often allows cliques to stay together.
  • Strengthens Relationships – Peer-to-peer recognition can also strengthen the bonds between team members. Getting along with colleagues can impact employee satisfaction and happiness. Happy employees are 12% more productive while unhappy workers are 10% less productive, according to a study by economists from Warwick University.
  • Increases Confidence - Employee recognition also makes workers feel more confident and improves their self-esteem. Management can express the value of each individual, making employees feel like an integral part of the company.
  • Encourages Development - Recognizing unique attributes and individual creativity can harness the full potential of every member of the team. Implementing a peer-to-peer recognition program can also help colleagues notice the traits and accomplishments of other members of the team, encouraging respect and admiration in the workplace.

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