A positive workplace climate, marked by group cohesiveness, is conducive to employees’ level of productivity and teamwork. You probably know from experience that not all workplaces share this culture. In fact, you might have experienced mistrust and egotism in your job, something that typically leads to everybody working more against than with each other. Corporate values play a crucial role in creating the workplace atmosphere, and if they are the wrong ones or remain a lip service, there’s a good chance they will impact workplace cohesiveness negatively.
Your company probably has a mission statement, which also expresses its values. However, not all companies actively live their proclaimed values, and some companies’ values work against cohesiveness. If management doesn’t compellingly communicate the corporation's values to employees, they’ll probably not matter much to them. Enron, which promoted greed in the higher ranks and competition among employees failed because the company was promoting the wrong values. If managers embrace gender equality, for instance, it will encourage employees to live up to adopt this value at work and possibly at home, too -- and will certainly improve cohesiveness.
Humor in the Workplace
Humor is a good example for how cohesiveness at the workplace can be strengthened. You have probably heard people say that women like to engage in chatting and laughing at work which could distract them from doing their job or cause others to feel excluded from informal circles. The good news is that several studies, including one by Chris Robert of the University of Missouri-Columbia, are objecting to this stereotype. Robert found that occasional humor generally increases employee cohesiveness. If you like to joke around at work, you should make sure that your humor is inclusive.
The Value of Workplace Friendships for Men and Women
If you work in a male-dominated culture, which promotes values such as competition, goal-orientation and functional relationships, you might hear from your female colleagues that they have a hard time connecting to co-workers. Researcher Rachel Morrison investigated the relationship between friendships in the workplace and organizational outcomes for male and female employees. She found that women are more likely to describe the benefits of workplace friendships in terms of social and emotional support, while men put emphasis on the opportunities that arise from these friendships. Management should be aware that values don’t always mean the same to men and women, and ensure that all employees can relate to them.
Enhancing Workplace Cohesiveness
Both management and employees can contribute to a cohesive workplace. Try to show interest for your colleagues; after all, you spend a lot of time with them. Management should show appreciation of employees, by sponsoring informal events for them, for instance. If managers are able to tell a compelling historical narrative of the company, they can inspire employees and strengthen their sense of belonging, according to researchers from Berkeley and Northwestern University. It's also important to create a vision for your employees which they can share and with which they can identify. This way, everybody will work together toward a common goal.
- Sex Roles: Are Women Tending and Befriending in the Workplace? Gender Differences in the Relationship Between Workplace Friendships and Organizational Outcomes.
- Psychological Science: Company, Country, Connections: Counterfactual Origins Increase Organizational Commitment, Patriotism, and Social Investment.
Dr. Andrea S. Dauber has been writing since 2008. Her areas of expertise are personal and career development. She has published everything from scholarly articles to book chapters. She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Mainz, Germany. As a certified professional and career coach, she coaches clients and conducts workshops at universities.