Survey: Office Cliques Common, Impact Culture

Chicago — July 24

A new CareerBuilder survey finds that 43 percent of workers say their office or workplace is populated by cliques.

The survey by Harris Interactive on behalf of CareerBuilder from May 14 to June 5 among nearly 3,000 full-time, private sector U.S. workers found that cliques can affect workplace culture, too.

While only 11 percent of workers said they felt intimidated by office cliques, 20 percent said 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 simply went to happy hours to fit in.

Some other activities include:

• 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.

Moreover, about 15 percent said they hide their political affiliation to fit in, 10 percent don’t reveal personal hobbies, and 9 percent keep religious affiliations and beliefs a secret, according to the survey.

The survey also found that not all managers succeed at staying neutral. Nearly half of those workers whose workplaces have cliques (46 percent) say their boss is a part of clique with some of his or her employees, the survey showed.

According to the survey, workers who fit a specific persona in high school are also more likely to be in an office clique. Participants were asked to describe their high school selves as one of the following stereotypical archetypes: athlete, honor society, cheerleader, drama club, geek, class clown, student government, teacher’s pet, band or choir member.

Former “class clowns,” “geeks” and “athletes” were the most likely to say they currently belong to an office clique in their job today, the survey said. Interestingly, participants who chose not to self-identify as fitting one of the above personas are the least likely to be a part of an office clique.

Additionally, 17 percent of those workers who self identified as introverts are members of an office clique, compared to 27 percent of extroverts.

Stepping beyond small office cliques to look at the organizational structure of entire companies, the survey found that different departments are widely perceived as owning distinctive traits, according to the survey.

Workers chose the departments that best embodied the following categories:

• Most Social: Customer Service
• Smartest: Information Technology
• Most Attractive: Sales
• Most Productive: Production and Quality
• Most Intimidating to an Outsider: Legal

Source: CareerBuilder