It Doesn’t Stop at Adolescence – Negative Peer Pressure in the Workplace

business (1)Peer pressure.  Everyone knows what peer pressure is, they’ve seen the afterschool specials, heard the lectures in 9th grade health class and had multiple adults in their life say, “If _____ jumped off a cliff would you do it too?”  When people talk about it they’re often talking about it in terms of children and teens. But, peer pressure is an issue which never goes away.  This is especially true in the workplace.

Millions of people have been known to say, “This job is just like being in high school again”.  Peer pressure is one of the reasons they say this, yet it’s not addressed with adults in the workplace nearly as well as it is with children and teens in school.  There’s an erroneous assumption that people grow out of their susceptibility to it as they age or mature.

Unfortunately, many people struggle with it throughout their lives, particularly in their employment.  Countless have identified it as their reason for quitting or getting fired from a job.  Almost 80% of people report having been negatively influenced by – or doing the influencing themselves – their co-workers into doing something they didn’t want to do.

There are 2 main categories which employees identify as having been negatively affected by peer pressure.  First, is drinking on the job and/or drinking too much at a company function, which resulted in personal and professional consequences.  The second category is being influenced to steal company resources: time, money, property or services.

Peer pressure, both negative and positive, is important for a company to be aware of and address.  It’s the way corporate culture is formed and maintained.  Employees develop shared ideas, assumptions and ways of behaving, which determine how they perceive and perform their jobs.  It’s how people think and act on a daily basis that most affects the bottom line.   As Nathaniel Banks said, “We have more to fear from the opinions of our friends than the bayonets of our enemies.”