Cliques in the workplace

Just when you thought high school was over -- we are having some trouble with employee cliques in our workplace. The "popular" employee group has been excluding other employees in social/extracurricular activities. In addition, the level of communication has suffered between employees. The division into cliques is subtle, but is having an effect on the morale of our employees.

 Anyone have suggestions for changing this? Seems like a strange problem to be having among working adults, but we've got it!


  • 6 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • whether you call it a clique or bullies, I think that this is a fairly common problem. You can't force employees to include others outside the workplace, but you certainly can address behavior that occurs in the workplace or affects the workplace. I'd have a talk with the worst offenders and see if you can get things going in the right direction. Maybe sponsor an event for all employees???
  • I agree with hr410 -- you can't force employees to be friends, but you can expect professionalism and respect at work.  I don't know if it's possible in your situation, but sometimes creating teams to work on projects and making sure the team members are from inside and outside the clique will at least get the employees a chance to interact. For new employees, assigning a member of the clique to be a mentor might help. 

     Good luck!

  • I would just also say that you should be sure that your managers or supervisors aren't getting in on the act. You don't want to have to deal with claims of favoritism. As long as your managers are including everyone in work-related meetings and events, I don't know what else you can do...

     And, seriously, what makes one group of emplyees think they're the "popular" ones? Were they jocks or homecoming queens?? Come on!!

  • Have management or HR think of some projects, not necessarily department or task specific--something like the summer picnic committee, where you assign employees (clique people and nonclique people) as sort of enforced "mixing." 

    By getting to know one another better in a more informal assignment, the clique people may become less exclusive.

  • You're absolutely correct, this is not hight school anymore.  If this is happening during unpaid time, I don't think there is much you can do.  If it is happening during paid time and is affecting the work being done then there is something that should be done about it.  It appears to me that there are a number of immature adults working in your company. Perhaps some teamwork training is necessary.  If this doesn't work and the behavior is actually affecting the job that is done, then a reprimand could be in order, oral at first and if that doesn't work then a written reprimand signed by the party involved into his/her file. 
  • Whoa! I think even discussing disciplinary measures for having a clique is a little extreme, unless the workers in the clique are abusing break times or not completing assigned tasks.

    Seems to me there a lot of books on organizational dynamics that can give you some ideas on de-cliquing your workplace.

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