What Is Micro-Clanning at Work?

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You may have noticed a trend that has been developing over the last couple of years: people are banding together in small groups of common interests. The anxiety that many people are feeling in today’s world have them seeking comfort zones and groups to lesson this anxiety. This is a trend that Faith Popcorn, futurist and founder of BrainReserve, has called “micro-clanning.”

Seeking More Intimacy

Popcorn says that people today are seeking more intimacy than what the digital world offers. We see this reflected in Facebook where people gather around “friends” that have like interests, which are then segregated into smaller groups that reflect even more specific like interests. I belong to smaller groups of HR people, writers, cigars smokers, my neighborhood, etc. Popcorn tells us about Meetup.com which has 39 million sign-ups and growing, where people can get together to share like interests. Rather than building digital relationships, like Facebook, micro-clanning through sites like Meetup is an opportunity for people to meet in person. This is not to say the digital connections are not important. That facilitates people meeting in person and makes it easier to facilitate the gatherings.

The Employee Experience

Today in HR we talk more and more about the “employee experience.” Futurist Jacob Morgan says that employee experience is made up of three components. Culture, the part that companies pay attention to “is how employees feel when they are inside of an organization, the vibe that they get, the organizational structure, leadership style, compensation and benefits, etc.” He also says that physical environment and the technological environment are also part of the employee experience. What if we were to use the micro-clanning trend as part of the physical, cultural and technological environment as a way of attracting and retaining employees?

In essence, companies that transact with the government for more than $10,000 annually are subject to stricter regulations. Employing members of protected classes, such as women, minorities, veterans, and persons with disabilities, is a goal of these “government contracts” businesses. For these federal contracts, an affirmative action plan, or AAP, must be annually developed. We call them “affirmative action employers.” I recognize its appeal.

Obviously, there should be some concern about how these micro-clans came to be. Today’s businesses place a greater emphasis on workplace inclusivity, and the micro-clan may have a tendency to be exclusive in a negative sense by definition. A business would need to ensure that these are established around similar interests rather than physical similarity.

Capture the Trend

Popcorn sees this as a growing trend, something that people are going to do, regardless of what employers do. Wouldn’t it be better if employers tried to ride the wave to improve the lives of employees by offering a better employee experience and subsequently improve the company’s ability to attract and retain future talent? I think we would be foolish not to.

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Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.


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