Poll: Networks of Workplace Pals Good for Productivity

October 30, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Nearly nine in 10 employees in a recent survey reported being most productive when surrounded by workplace friends.

A news release about the survey by SelectMinds, said 87% of respondents described themselves as being at their professional best when they had good rapport with their office colleagues.

Not only that, but workplace relationships are apparently major drivers of overall job engagement. Some 70% of employees contend that the social aspects of work are very important to their workplace satisfaction.

In addition, 83% rate trusted relationships with co-workers and suppliers as a critical reason for joining and staying with an employer. Approximately one in four (23%) employees reports quitting a job because they felt isolated and an additional 16% say they fled to other jobs because of weak relationships with co-workers.

On the negative side, more than three-quarters (78%) of workers polled say they feel very or somewhat disconnected from the information flow, office politics and career opportunities elsewhere around the company.

Perhaps as a result of this, more than half (57%) of all employees strongly believe that expanding their professional network would help them do their job more effectively. Interestingly, both men and women think the opposite sex has an easier time making friends among office colleagues.

The poll found marked differences between the genders on how and why they establish these relationships. For instance, women are more likely to cite camaraderie/emotional support (31%) as the most common reason for building buddy relationships compared with men (23%). When building these relationships, women and men also have different approaches: women prefer online introductions, while men prefer face-to-face. On average, men are also more likely to socialize outside of work than women (33% vs. 26%), according to the survey

“In today’s information age, there’s a tendency to overlook the critical role that human relationships play in the way in which (and speed with which) work gets done,” said Anne Berkowitch, CEO of SelectMinds, in the press release. “Employees turn to their networks of colleagues for technical information, competitive intelligence, business leads and even emotional support.”

Other Results

Among other findings:

  • 87% of workers say they are more likely to listen to information and recommendations if they are presented to them by someone they know.
  • When trying to answer a question in a hurry, employees are much more likely to reach out to an experienced friend or colleague (42%) than to tap into their company’s knowledge management system (9%).
  • More than one-third of all new hires cite “establishing relationships with colleagues and supervisors” (33%) and “adapting to a new company culture” (38%) as their top challenges, followed by “learning the new job responsibilities” (29%).
  • 66% of workers say employees with robust personal networks are more informed and knowledgeable than their peers; 62% believe they are more productive.

The survey was conducted in September 2006 and was fielded by IntelliSurvey. This survey polled 1,919 full-time or part-time professional employees working at least 20 hours per week, age 20 or older.