Managers must see that none of the employees feels excluded as even perception of social exclusion may lead to employees to engage in seedy activities, which may ultimately affect the organisation, suggests a study.
"Everybody has a need for social approval. It is the basis of our human functioning," said Marie Mitchell, co-author of the research and professor of management at the University of Georgia in the US.
When people believe they are at the risk of exclusion, they assume there is something about their personality or their makeup that suggests they are not a valued group member.
"So they engage in behaviours that are pretty seedy. They undermine anybody outside that work-group, they cheat to enhance their group's performance level, they lie to other work-groups," Mitchell noted.
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Those lies serve two purposes: to help the liar's group beat their competitors and to prove the liar's worth within the group, the researchers said.
But such behaviour can ripple throughout an organisation, causing managers to expect unrealistic performance goals and contribute to an overtaxing, suspicious environment.
For the study, the researchers tested the idea through an experiment in which participants faced the risk of exclusion.
"There is a general human tendency, when faced with these kind of situations, for individuals to misreport what they did," Mitchell added.
So the risk of social exclusion essentially motivates some pretty unsavoury behaviour within individuals at work, the researcher concluded.
The study appeared in the Journal of Applied Psychology.