Workplace Cliques: Dangers to the Work Environment

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Teamwork is an essential part of all workplaces. Every manager wants their employees to get along as this is important for success in the workplace. Unfortunately, on some occasions, groups of people at work can form a clique. As an adult, you may have thought cliques were a thing of your past and something from your school days, but sadly, this isn’t the case.

Signs Of A Clique Forming

A clique is a tightly knit group of co-workers who socialise inside and outside of work, and exclude others. These cliques make the employees who are on the outside feel less worthy or important. Being a clique may mean that employees are only spending time with one group of people and are not open to learning from other colleagues. In a clique there will tend to be a leader, so be aware of a strong character trying to influence others’ behaviour.

There are ways in which these cliques can be dangerous to the workplace environment.


If a group of people are spending too much time together employees on the outside can become distracted and focused on the clique. It may cause dissatisfaction with their workplace environment and employees may spend more time focussing on the group (whether they are in the group or not) than on their actual job. Therefore this then impacts the company. It also could cause good employees to leave the job when they feel they have reached their limit.

Address the Behaviour

If the behaviour is not addressed the members of the group may thrive on it. If you notice behaviour from a group of people at work you should speak to a member of management, or if you are management, speak to the group. It is important to not overreact. People are allowed to have close friends at work and you mustn’t try to get colleagues punished for this. If the behaviour is upsetting other members of staff though, then it needs to be addressed appropriately.

Staff Morale

When there is a tight-knit group of people, there will often be jokes that only they will understand or get. If these are then made around other colleagues, or even worse, about other colleagues, then staff morale is going to dip. If a group of people are working together on a project and someone feels left out, then they will not want to fully participate in the task, they may become unhappy and then the work will not be completed to the highest level possible. If a member/s of staff feels that they are not being listened to by the clique, or that they are not being taken seriously, then the staff member/s will be unhappy with their working environment.

Office Rumours

There is nothing worse than trying to run a business and keep it professional when there are rumours or gossiping happening. Workplace cliques will often discuss other people from the workplace, and not always in a good light. This is how rumours can start and then spread throughout the workplace environment. The staff in your workplace should be aware of the consequences of these actions and that their actions can be linked to bullying. No manager would want their staff to feel as if they are being bullied.


Members of a workplace clique will be very alike and may act or think in the same way, as this is why they have been drawn to each other. Businesses don’t work if everyone is the same or not expanding their ideas. If members of staff are not willing to be individual, be open to learning from others or bring new ideas, then the business will not move on effectively.

If You Feel Like You Have Fallen Into A Clique…

– Try to spend time with other co-workers

– Start new conversations with new people

– Avoid being part of gossiping

– Speak to friends or family about the members of the group and decide if you want to continue to be part of the group 

– Discuss with your manager

If workplace cliques are a worry for your business, our article on 8 ways to create a positive mental health environment gives some great ideas.

Interested in ensuring you are looking after your employees? Our Mental Health First Aid Training Course is essential for any business that wants to look after their employee’s health.  For more information, please get in touch.

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