Recent publicity on workplace bullying, and studies conducted by sociologist Tim Hallet on the negative impact of gossip on workplace camaraderie, suggest organisations need to be wary of the detrimental effects of dysfunctional employee relations on business performance.

Research from the 2009 JRA Best Workplaces Survey shows an employee's sense of belonging towards their organisation is the No 1 factor driving their level of engagement.

This has been emphasised when employees were asked to describe, "What makes your workplace a great place to work?" The most common response was, "The people I work with" or "The friendly and supportive work relationships".

On the other hand, when asked to name factors detracting from a great workplace experience, "lack of co-operation or interaction between departments and teams" appeared high on the list.

"Sometimes we see organisations scoring high on questions related to 'my team", with an average score of over 90 per cent, yet recording very poor scores around inter-departmental communication, with an average of around 60 per cent," says JRA consultant Jessica Xu.

"Organisations should watch out for negative gossiping, as this often leads to the 'us versus them' thinking that greatly hinders inter-group relations. As the problem escalates it becomes increasingly difficult to stop."

JRA's analysis of New Zealand's Best Workplaces has highlighted the effort made by those organisations to build a team-based culture, and their success in "knocking down silos".

Says Xu: "Typically their organisation values emphasise these qualities that are then reinforced by publicly recognising examples of cross-team co-operation and achievements."

JRA will be running the 2010 JRA Best Workplaces Survey in association with the New Zealand Herald from June 1 to August 31. Registrations are now being taken.