Are you a member of an office clique?

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Businesswoman with her teamSurvey finds that cliques go beyond high school and into the workplace

In high school, you were probably guilty of doing things that you may not have wanted to do just to fit in with a certain clique. Maybe you snuck out of your house in the middle of the night, skipped classes or said some unkind words to someone who didn’t deserve it.

While the hope is that this type of behavior is eventually outgrown, a new survey finds that the office isn’t all that different from high school when it comes to social dynamics.

According to CareerBuilder, 43 percent of workers say their office or workplace is populated by cliques, and 20 percent of workers say they’ve done something they’re really not interested in or didn’t want to do just to fit in with co-workers.

Forty-six percent in this subgroup went to office happy hours to fit in with an office clique, while others cop to the following activities:

  • “Watched a certain TV show or movie to discuss at work the next day” — 21 percent
  • “Made fun of someone else or pretended not to like them” — 19 percent
  • “Pretended to like certain food” — 17 percent
  • “Took smoke breaks” — 9 percent

Sometimes workers will even avoid sharing personal information in order to fit in — 15 percent hide their political affiliation, 10 percent don’t reveal personal hobbies and 9 percent keep their religious affiliations and beliefs a secret.

Bosses belong to cliques too
Bosses can be intimidating as it is, so if they belong to one of the office cliques, it may make them seem even more unapproachable. Nearly half of those workers whose workplaces have cliques say their boss is part of a clique with some of his or her employees.

“Thirteen percent of workers said the presence of office cliques has had a negative impact on their career progress,” says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “While it’s human nature to associate with peers who possess similar personality types and characteristics, cliques can be counterproductive in the workplace. We see more managers using teambuilding activities or assembling people from different groups to work on projects to help discourage behaviors that can alienate others.”

Most likely to be … in a clique
Were you considered a teacher’s pet, cheerleader, class clown or other stereotypical archetype in high school? Or did you not consider yourself to be part of any specific group? Depending on your answer, you may be more likely to be in an office clique according to the survey. Former “class clowns,” “geeks” and “athletes” were the most likely to say they currently belong to an office clique in their job today, while participants who chose not to self-identify as fitting any particular persona are the least likely to be a part of an office clique.

Additionally, 17 percent of those workers who consider themselves to be introverts are members of an office clique, compared to 27 percent of extroverts.

Personalities by department
While small cliques may exist within a company, sometimes whole departments may be perceived around the office as having certain distinctive traits.

Workers chose which department best embodied the following categories:

Does your workplace have cliques? Are you part of an office clique? Tell us about it in the comments section. 

One Comment
  1. Great post.  I agree, there are clique throughout our lives, and given we spend at least half our day(week) at work, we are very likely to associate with people of similar interests.  I don’t know if I would go as far as say that offices have cliques, but more of individuals who share similar interests sharing time together.  Also, I believe many employees these days do not voice to others their political or religious affiliation, because those are private, and there is no need to talk about it at work; I don’t believe they are “masking” these to fit in, simply keeping certain parts of their lives confidential.  
    Thanks for the post!

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