Homophily- Social networks in the workplace

When we look at social networks, and the individuals the social networks are consisting of. We can see that the individuals often relate to certain characteristics. These can be for example their values, previous education, which language they speak, behaviour patters and any type of groupings and similarities. When we notice the how and the why of how friendships are created at school, university and workplace. We call this focal point or an organizational foci. Focal points make the homophily expand, and creates edges to the graph of a social network.

 

In this blog post we are going to talk about homophily in the workplace. How connections between individuals at the workplace. When employees meet every day for a business or work place they have from the start a connection or a bond. We call this a ethical “force”, which pressures friendships between the employees. But there will always be stronger and weaker bonds around the workplace. Something seems to be a extra bond between workers with the most similarities.

To understand how these bonds are created we can take a look at the factors that exists between the employees which have a friendship. To do this we can look at what’s outside the friendship-networks, which are called surrounding context.

 

Position in the company

One of the most important surrounding context can be viewed as the position in the company, most will agree that most employees to a certain degree “suck up” to the boss of the company. Companies are often view as hierarchies which will affect the way individuals treats each other. But it can also be argued that higher positioned employee can be alienated especially in the form of true friendships. Position in the company can also cause employees to group up with the same type of employees.

 

 

Age

The age of the employees can be a factor in how people become friends. Same age often means lots of similar interests and experiences. They then often have more to talk about and to bond over.

 

University or school

The place the workers started to study for their line of work, could create connections and bonds between co-workers. Schools often creates a social setting for their students, which can be a bonding point for workers whom perhaps have common friends etc.

 

Geological origin

If we picture an organization in the capital of Norway, Oslo. We can imagine an employee being hired, which is originally from North Norway. In the company there are a certain percentage of North-Norwegians. We can assume that the new employee would have a easier time connecting with these employees, in contrast to for example a employee from another part of Norway. This is not a certainty thought.

 

Homophily is the love of the same, in a social network context we can because of the previously mentioned factors see that the article “Birds of a Feather: Homophily in social networks”. We can see this is in fact the case in the context of a workplace. People often have easier time liking others who are the most the same as themselves.

Homophily in social networks at the workplace is very important to be aware of in business, bonds between co-workers makes the workers happy. And happy workers is important for moral at the company. As well as mental health. Which in turn generates a more productive workforce.

 

Sources:

http://fortune.com/2015/10/29/happy-productivity-work/

Miller McPherson, Lynn Smith-Lovin, James M Cook:Birds of a Feather: Homophily in social networks [Link: http://www.leonidzhukov.net/hse/2016/networks/papers/McPherson_HomophilyInSocialNetworks.pdf}