Informal Communication can be Good and Bad
I work as a human resource manager in a MNC bank. I was handed over the responsibility of studying the behavior patterns of successful and mediocre employees in terms of their performance and suggest employee engagement initiatives to boost employee morale and enhance productivity.
In my study, I found that employees who gossip between tasks, not during them, are more productive than those workers who remain isolated. What's more, communication at the wrong time reduces productivity. Employees who remain closely knit with one another frequently are more productive than those who are more isolated, the researchers have found.
I used electronic monitoring to tease apart the various types of interaction in the workplace and their differing effects. My conclusion is that such monitoring is very useful and it could improve how individuals and organizations work, but it raises issues about the extent to which companies monitor their employees' behavior. Many studies of communication within organizations, such as of who e-mails whom, have suggested that loose networks, in which people have few contacts in common, boost productivity. But these don't capture face-to-face, moment-to-moment communication.
People have formal structures and reporting relationships, but when you look at who's actually talking to each other you get a different picture. We can predict productivity far more accurately from these informal structures and behaviors.
People who spent lots of time between jobs interacting with their colleagues going to lunch or stopping for a chat ultimately got much more done, the results showed. The best connected employee was 60 percent more productive.
No one suspected that such interaction would help. On the other hand, if someone communicated while they were assigned to a task whether seeking help or distracted by others their productivity dropped sharply.
Very interesting study and findings. I am intrigued by the correlation that you found between informal communication (in between tasks) and productivity. I wonder if you also looked at the cause and effect relationship.
For instance, is informal communication (in between tasks) what causes an employee to be productive?
Or... is it a productive employee who tends to have more informal interactions between tasks?
Thanks for sharing,