Are workplace cliques good or bad for a company?

A CEO has outlined the good and bad points cliques at work can bring and how HR teams can manage their office groups.

Alan Price, CEO at BrightHR explains that “on paper, a clique is not necessarily a bad thing” but they can be a double-edged sword.

Mr Price explains how having a group of employees who work well together can be a boost to productivity, which is a huge advantage for a company during the UK’s productivity puzzle.

However, they can bring a problem with them if left unmanaged, Mr Price said:

The problem here is that employees within a clique are at risk of becoming too familiar, potentially reacting negatively if asked to work with others outside of it. Additionally, if several cliques are formed, it could lead to an ‘us vs them’ mentality that could prove detrimental to overall workplace morale.

Also by allowing the same individuals to keep working together, it may hinder their development. Mr Price warns that some employees may become too comfortable within their clique instead of thinking independently and coming up with their own ideas.

Another problem that a clique can bring is other employees feeling left out, and could even lead to workers leaving the company. Mr Price said:

Employees who are not part of the clique can quickly feel left out and unfairly treated, especially if the clique involves management. Eventually, staff in this position may become disillusioned in their role, something that can affect their performance and potentially lead to them seeking work elsewhere.

Cliques could also result in bullying, as deliberate exclusion is a form of bullying. Other forms of misconduct can also arise as a direct result of a clique, such as workplace gossiping or rumour spreading.

Mr Price concluded that where possible, companies should encourage staff to work with a broader group of people.