Thought Leadership Essays

Partnerships at Work – A Leading Indicator of Employee Satisfaction

July 29, 2010

Vikas Narula

I have been reading the “Power of 2”, by Rodd Wager and Gale Muller, and was intrigued by some of the research cited in the book.  Specifically, how partnerships at work serve as a powerful driver for engagement, satisfaction and happiness.

Some interesting findings:

1) Employees with just one collaborative relationship are 29% more likely to say they will stay with their company for the next year and 42% more likely to intend to remain with their current employer for their entire career, compared to those with no partnerships.

2) The median number of work partnerships for an American employee is just four….even though the highest level of happiness and employee engagement kick in when a person has 5-10 good alliances.

3) 16% of the employee population has zero partnerships at work. Asked if they have ever had a great partnership at work, nearly one-quarter of employees say no.

This data made me think about the Keyhubs work we have done with some clients. Following is the collaborative network of a small, 50 person division.  Some folks have much more partnership activity than others:

The median number of partnerships in this network is 4 – inline with the national average. 25% of the employees have 6+ collaborative relationships (i.e. highly engaged).

There are 8 people with zero collaborative relationships — or 16% of the workforce – also inline with the national average:

If partnerships tell us something about employee satisfaction, do these maps tell us about the engagement fabric of an organization?  Can these maps help firms create strategies for sustaining and boosting collaboration?  With this information in hand, can your company do more to help bring isolates “back in the fold”?

To reiterate what I discussed in an earlier blog post, mapping informal networks can help organizations visualize employee engagement, minimize the risk of turnover and provide insight regarding partnerships at work – a leading indicator of employee satisfaction.

Vikas Narula (@NarulaTweets) is Creator and Co-Founder of Keyhubs (@Keyhubs) – a software and services company specializing in workplace social analytics.


  1. Dan Burke |
    13 Years Ago

    True partnerships or true collaborative relationships are all too rare in our day to day lives. Finding a way to visualize and measure where they work well is equally a rare gift (or tool), an analysis which no doubt can offer many lessons on what we should emulate in our lives and work place. No doubt many lessons for those of us who should aspire to be more collaborative, more engaged, more productive, more happy and thereby satisfied with our place in society. Vikas, you are on to something big!

    • vnarula |
      13 Years Ago


      Thanks so much for the post. In my past, I had a title of “Manager of Collaborative Development”. A lot of people wondered what I did (I sometimes thought the same!). Now (especially with the insights from Power of 2), I appreciate the role a bit more. It was an enjoyable job, which I did for 7 years! I had no idea I was “spreading happiness”! : )


  2. JC Duarte |
    13 Years Ago

    Great post! I love how you’ve captured the power of “trusted community” & “group activity” through the partnership at work model. It’s also represents the classical 3rd stage of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human needs.. Sense of Belonging.. touching on the 4th stage & Self Esteem through recognition / shared experiences with your peers.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • vnarula |
      13 Years Ago

      Hi JC,

      Thanks for visiting us and posting a comment! Looking forward to connecting with you via skype and learning more about how we can work together.

      Best Regards,

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