These days, teamwork and collaboration is all the rage in the corporate world. Whether it’s a small time business or a large multinational organization, more and more companies all over the world are adopting a collaborative approach at their workplace. And, considering the staggering amount of research conducted in this area, that shows the tremendous benefits of teamwork, it completely makes sense for companies to do so.
The executives at General Mills reported that their factories that have team based work culture are 40 times more productive than the ones with a traditional work environment. General Mills isn’t the only company raving about teamwork, many other famous companies such as Microsoft, Xerox, PepsiCo have benefited from a team based work approach.
One of the common strategies to improve teamwork and to develop a communal environment at a workplace, is to promote networking and social bonding amongst the employees. It has become common for companies to regularly conduct social events, workplace team building activities and off hours meetups to develop a comradery between the employees. The ultimate goal of this strategy is to bring employees closer to each other to improve workplace collaboration which in turn will benefit the company.
Corporate social networking is no doubt a great strategy that has proven to be effective. But, there are downsides to it as well. Teamwork can become very tricky if not conducted properly, and social networking may go against the companies.
Increased politics and drama
Office politics is a common occurrence that may not always be very obvious but it generally exists in a majority of workplaces. Gossiping, backbiting, and grapevine are serious concerns that can have terrible consequences if not controlled. The more the employees get to mingle with each other the more issues and problems arise. Where friendships are formed, animosities also develop that can add extra pressure on the employees. Imagine how distressing it would be to find out that your coworkers are talking behind your back or you are being dragged into petty issues. Apart from causing stress, office politics also leads to disengagement and may take an employees focus off his work. According to research, employees who indulge in workplace politics become less productive as their attention becomes divided. Moreover, office politics increases hostility amongst the employees that may even result in an increase in the rate of employee turnover.
Having friends at work is great. Let’s admit it, we all would love to have friends where we work. Also, who wouldn’t mind taking constant breaks from work just for a laugh or two? Research has proven the benefits of workplace friendships. It has been shown that having friends where you work increases employee engagement, productivity, creativity and motivation. On the other hand, having friends at work can also be distracting which can negatively impact your productivity and hamper your chances to grow. Friends take up a lot of your time talking about personal issues that may result in you neglecting your work.
Formation of lobbies and groups
We as humans love to form communities that best suit our interests. Look around you, everywhere you go, whether it’s a school, college, your office or even a family gathering, you would find that people who think alike tend to stay together in groups. It’s a natural phenomenon that cannot be eliminated completely. In a workplace, formation of subgroups can have both positive and negative results based on what the common goal of that group is. However it does divide the workforce, and the idea of having a single unified team of workers gets thrown out in a bin.
These sub groups may start clashing with each other that can create a hostile and toxic business environment. Moreover lobbies against the managers and bosses may even form that aim of throwing the manager down from his post through dirty politics and mischief. When the employees get divided in groups, they start focusing more on their personal agendas and lose touch with the company’s core values.
Bullying and harassment
It’s sad to see that in this day and age, bullying and workplace harassment is still so predominant. Gender inequality, racial discrimination and bullying are issues that are still prevalent in many companies all over the world. When managers conduct activities and events for corporate social networking, their hearts might be in the right place, but what they do not realize is that the same events may lead to bullying and workplace harassment. Let’s say that there is a soiree that you have arranged for your employees, you want all your employees to get to know each other and have a good time. But what happens instead is that some of the employees gather and pass racist slurs towards their coworkers who belong to a different ethnicity. Simply put, social gatherings at a workplace may allow negative minded employees to get together and gives them a chance to bully and harass others.
Making employee gatherings productive
Just like anything in life, making employee collaboration work requires striking a balance. You can’t completely restrict your employees from making alliances, neither can you give them a freehand. As a manager or a leader, one may clearly define lines and boundaries that cannot be allowed to cross. It is important to have strict policies against any form of workplace harassment, bullying or indulgence of any sort of non-professional activity.
Another way to ensure a positive interaction amongst your employees is to regulate their communication. No, this doesn’t mean taking up their personal space or micromanaging them. This means that any formal meeting, conference, team building activity, group chat and even individual chat between the employees is monitored and filtered if needed. A smart way to do so is by investing in a collaboration software like Workspee. This software is shared by all the employees in a company and provides a platform for effective communication. Although every employee has individual access to the software and a personal account, the admin may still monitor any conversation that happens between the employees. Moreover, Workspee also has a feature that allows the employees to report any indecent comment or post to the managers.
Corporate social networking may have its perks but it brews negativity and politics that can be a major stumbling block to organizational success.