Does Your Culture Foster Cliques or Camaraderie?


When people leave high school or college are they happy to get away from an environment where cliques had power in day-to-day life?  According to a press release from CareerBuilder, cliques follow most people into the workplace.

CareerBuilder conducted a survey of approximately 3,000 full-time private sector workers in the United States concerning workplace cliques.  The survey results showed that cliques can have a big impact on the culture of a company’s workplace.  Over 40 percent of survey respondents felt their office or workplace was ruled by cliques.

These cliques can lead to lost productivity, bullying and deadly workplace violence. Workplace violence is estimated to cost American businesses 120 billion dollars a year.

Around 10 percent of workers said they felt intimidated by the cliques in the office where they worked.  Approximately 20 percent said they’d had done things they didn’t want just to fit in with a workplace clique.

Over 40 percent claimed they went to happy hour to maintain their status in a clique.  In order to be accepted, other workers watched TV shows or movies just so they could discuss them the next day.  Some said they mocked or teased fellow workers and pretended not to like them.  There were some who even claimed to like certain foods or scheduled their smoke breaks to be with members of their clique.  Some workers even refused to reveal their political affiliation, personal hobbies or religion for fear of not fitting in with other workers.

Almost half of the workers surveyed claimed their boss was part of a workplace clique with their fellow workers.  Many survey respondents felt the presence of a workplace cliques provided a negative workplace environment.  There were even workers who felt workplace cliques hurt them when it came to career advancement.

While there may be some advantages to joining a clique at work—about 13% of workers said the presence of office cliques has had a negative impact on their career advancement. Most often, members of a clique get labeled as part of ‘that group’ and then it becomes part of your work place identity. This can be critical when direct supervisors and management are not be able to spend enough time with workers and get to know them well, sometimes who you associate with is who you become to a boss or manager.

Dealing with an office clique can present a challenge for managers and human resources professionals.  The first line of defense is to be aware of these groups. Keep your eyes and ears open and you will see them. Email distribution is also an excellent way to identify these cells within. Cliques flourish in organizations with weak leadership.

A successful way to deal with such cliques is to create a variety of different lines of communication for all employees. Reward inclusion. Make certain diverse teams are working together.  Other ways include participation in team building exercises, injecting new blood and assigning projects so that workers get know each other better.

Workplace cliques are common.  When addressed correctly, they can have little or no effect on the workplace environment.

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