Previous studies on organizational attachment have looked at the role of positive relationships on the attitudes of employees. But, for the most part, they have ignored the impact negative relationships can have.
To examine the influence of negative relationships, authors Venkataramani, Labianca, & Grosser (2012) conducted a study on employees in a midsize manufacturing company and a product development firm.
In these samples, they found that both negative and positive connections impact workplace relationship satisfaction. This level of satisfaction, in turn, influenced employee feelings of attachment to the organization. The article also found that positive networks became increasingly important to worker satisfaction when negative relationships were more central.
The relationships found in this study existed regardless of the employee’s age, gender, part-time or full-time status, education, ethnicity, years worked at the company, location, or number of required work ties. Additionally, the emotions employees often experienced did not affect the findings in the study, and neither did whether or not a leadership position was held.
To maintain employee satisfaction, the study suggests that companies should encourage positive employee relationships and lessen negative ones. Doing so can ensure that employees will stick around, as satisfaction leads to higher job satisfaction and feelings of commitment.
To aid employee satisfaction, the authors suggest managers should:
- Support informal get-togethers among co-workers.
- Proactively resolve employee differences early on to decrease the occurrence of negative exchanges in workgroups.
- Form a climate of open communication to promote trust and relationship building.
- Adjust the workflow and communication arrangements in workgroups so that workers with negative relationships do not work together.
The authors also propose ways for employees to increase their own satisfaction levels:
- Work on fostering positive connections as opposed to socially withdrawing when negative relationships exist.
- Stop negative relationships when they begin to form, and before they affect promotion and other growth-related opportunities.
- Use negative relationships as feedback to bring about personal change.