July 21, 2011

Birds of a Feather: How New Employees’ Similarity to Coworkers Affects Organizational Behavior and Productivity

Key Findings

  • All similarity is not created equal. The types of similarities that new employees share with their work groups affect the efforts they make to form relationships with their coworkers and bosses.
  • In general, newcomers are more likely to make more efforts to form relationships when they have obvious things in common with their work group – such as race, gender, or education level — rather than when they have more-subtle, deeper things in common, such as work ethics or moral values. In this regard, similarities that employees themselves perceive as important tend to be more relevant than similarities that an outside observer might consider important.
  • When newcomers actively socialize with their new coworkers, they don’t necessarily gain a better understanding of their role within the organization; however, they do tend to perform more creatively and feel more loyal and supportive to their new employer.

Recommended Citation
Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies. (2011, July). Birds of a feather: How new employees’ similarity to coworkers affects organizational behavior and productivity (CAHRS ResearchLink No. 15). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, ILR School.

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