The Hidden Value of Office Smalltalk

The chatterbox who can't stop talking about last night's football game might just be enhancing your business

Written by Kristene Quan

Lunch, coffee, baseball and football. No, those aren’t the missing words from today’s crossword puzzle. Those are the four words that could mean the difference between an employee keeping his job and packing up his desk.

According to recent research from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, employees who message their colleagues about topics like sports and meals were significantly more likely to keep their jobs during company layoffs. The study’s author looked at two years of electronic communications like emails, instant messages and calendar invites of more than 8,000 workers at a global information technology consulting firm.

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After sifting through and crunching the data, the Wharton researcher identified a few keywords that kept popping up in messages from workers who were more likely to keep their jobs at the company: baseball, football, coffee and lunch.

Those employees who used these keywords weren’t necessarily the most productive at the office, nor did they bring in the most money for the company. Nevertheless, bosses found these individuals to be valuable, and so they got to keep their jobs.

The findings suggest that socializing at work is just as important—maybe even more important—as productivity, and that social employees offer something intangible that can’t be measured by revenue alone. Something to keep in mind when evaluating the chatterbox in finance who’s always talking football over coffee.

So€¦ how about those Calgary Stampeders?

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Do you agree that people who chatter in the office offer intangible value? Would you evaluate them differently than someone who never engages in smalltalk? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

This article originally appeared at CanadianBusiness.com.

Originally appeared on PROFITguide.com