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?

I see two ways this might work. First, in attracting people part of the pitch to join the company could be a list of the various micro-clans that have already been formed within your employee group. Perhaps that would attract a candidate that you might not ordinarily get. The second way that it might work is for the company to provide room to meet, the technology to connect to others who might be interested in the micro-clan, whatever it might be, and openness in the culture to allow the formations of these groups.

Of course, there does have to be some concern on the reason these micro-clans have formed. Companies today pay more attention to inclusiveness in the workplace and the micro-clan, by its definition, may tend to be exclusive, and not in a good way. A company would need to make sure these are formed around like interests rather than like appearance.

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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