People who want to hold on to their jobs might want to make an extra effort to befriend their coworkers.
The Wall Street Journal recently highlighted a study by Wharton professor Lynn Wu, which found that employees at a global information technology company were more likely to survive layoffs if they used the company’s in-house communications platform to socialize with their peers.
As part of the study, Wu tracked the messages sent by 8,037 employees over a two-year span, and measured how much each employee used words associated with socializing like “baseball,” “football,” “coffee,” and “lunch.”
What she found was that workers with a higher percentage of these socializing words in their messages were more likely to keep their jobs during layoffs. Wu theorizes that having more friends in a company creates a wider network of people willing to tell others about your accomplishments, particularly when your job is on the line.
“Through these socializing activities, network contacts get to know an individual better and are more likely to serve as strong personal advocates, particularly in situations of crisis and uncertainty,” Wu writes.
Conversely, Wu found that employees who used the social network to get business-related information from people with diverse roles within the company were more productive than those who didn’t. In fact, these information-seeking employees were shown to generate higher billable revenues for the company than their peers.
Since employees have limited time to communicate with coworkers while at the office, Wu finds there is actually a tradeoff for workers between using their messages to get more work done and doing so to secure their position at a company.
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