The Propinquity Effect

Ok, kids – it’s Readers Digest Word Power time!

I’m constantly trying to get my HR and Talent peers to spend more time with those they serve.  Shared time – face-to-face – lunch, coffee, cigarette breaks, drinks after work, Thursday night bowling league – it doesn’t matter.  The time and space is the important thing.  More time. Closer together.

There’s a name for this, it’s called the Propinquity Effect:

The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often, forming a bond between subject and friend. Occupational propinquity based on a person’s career, is also commonly seen as a factor in marriage selection. Workplace interactions are frequent and this frequent interaction is often a key indicator as to why close relationships can readily form in this type of environment.[1] In other words, relationships tend to form between those who have a high propinquity.

It’s hard to get most HR Pros to believe this.  It’s science that has real personal value to your overall HR effectiveness within your organization.  Spend more time, building a relationship with another individual outside of HR in your organization, and you’ve just added to your organizational influence.

I’m not saying you have to become close friends and go on vacation with each other.  What I’m saying is you need to find value in building personal relationships at work – if – and this is a big ‘if’ – you have a goal to be more effective in HR.  That might sound slightly facetious – but it’s not.  Some of you are fine with where your role in HR is in your organization.  Others of you are not satisfied with how your role is seen in HR.   Propinquity is easiest way to change that.


4 thoughts on “The Propinquity Effect

  1. I needed this vocab lesson, Tim. Never heard the word before! As I dig deeper into small companies and their HR strategies it’s amazing how much more effective companies (just like ours!) can be by just spending good, quality time with the team. There’s always going to be paperwork, too much jargon, and managers who aren’t interested in the emotional element of HR, but I don’t think a company’s HR culture can improve (and the perceptions of it) without a firm, natural commitment to the social aspects of employing people.

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