It should come as no surprise that both our working environment — whether it be at home, in an office, or a combination of the two — and the age-diversity of our workplace will impact how we interact with our colleagues, as well as whether we socialize with them inside and outside of work.

To better understand how different generations of employees and various work environments influence social engagement at work, TopResume, the world's largest resume-writing service, surveyed a cross-section of today's multi-generational workforce, revealing surprising attitudes, behaviors, and preferences when it comes to socializing on the job. Despite the ever-evolving modes of work for millions of U.S. companies — in-person, remote, or hybrid — TopResume's latest survey divulged that regardless of age, most employees describe themselves as being “introverts” at work and have no interest in engaging with their colleagues outside of the office.

Recently, TopResume asked 1,000 U.S. career-driven professionals about their current workplace-socialization preferences. Across all five generations — Generation Z (born 1997-2012), Millennials/Gen Y (born 1981-1996), Generation X (born 1965-1980), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), and The Silent Generation (born 1928-1945) — when asked, “Do you primarily identify as a workplace introvert or an extrovert?,” the majority of each generation identified as someone who, according to the survey's definition, “tends to be more reserved, reflective, thoughtful, and introspective, often preferring solitary activities and needing time to recharge after social interactions.”

The breakdown was as follows:

    • Generation Z: (68% introvert vs. 32% extrovert)

    • Millennials / Gen Y: (65% introvert vs. 35% extrovert)

    • Generation X: (54% introvert vs. 46% extrovert)

    • Baby Boomers: (58% introvert vs. 42% extrovert)

    • The Silent Generation: (57% introvert vs. 43% extrovert)

“Discussions about workplace introversion and extroversion often intersect with generational differences, especially with the ubiquity of social media dominating the past few decades,” said Amanda Augustine, career expert for TopResume, and a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and a certified professional resume writer (CPRW). “Surprisingly, however, TopResume's latest survey showed there was a common thread across all five generations self-proclaiming as 'introverts,' likely resulting from the growing number of remote and hybrid workplaces and subsequent reliance on digital communication over in-person interactions. In fact, the multigenerational workforce has a lot more in common than one would think, in both how they interact professionally, as well as socially, in the workplace.”

When asked, “Do you often get together with your current (or most recent) colleagues outside of work hours?,” the majority of nearly every generation said they “rarely or never” socialize with colleagues outside of work hours: Only Generation Y said they “hang out occasionally for non-work activities,” more so than any other age group. The remaining options — “hang out occasionally, but for work-related events only” and “we're often together outside of work”were unpopular across the board.

“Today's professional workforce is missing out on valuable career opportunities because of the simple fact that they don't socialize with their colleagues outside of work,” said Augustine. “It's a risk they're taking with their career trajectory, which could further stunt or stall their professional advancement.”

How being antisocial at work can damage your career

Augustine warns that if professionals avoid socializing with colleagues outside of work, they may be risking several potential negative effects on their careers:

      • Limited Networking Opportunities: Building a strong professional network is crucial for career advancement. By not socializing with colleagues outside of work, professionals may miss out on valuable networking opportunities that could lead to new career prospects, mentorship, or collaborations.

      • Reduced Visibility and Recognition: Socializing with colleagues outside of work can increase visibility within the organization. Professionals who avoid participating in social activities may be less visible to decision-makers and miss out on opportunities for recognition and advancement.

      • Weakened Relationships: Social interactions outside of work contribute to building strong relationships with colleagues. Professionals who do not socialize may struggle to establish rapport and trust with their coworkers, which could affect collaboration, teamwork, and overall job satisfaction.

      • Limited Access to Information and Resources: Informal conversations and interactions outside of work often lead to valuable insights, information, and resources. By sidestepping social activities, professionals may overlook important industry trends, best practices, and knowledge-sharing opportunities that could benefit their careers.

Small Steps, Big Impact: Initiating Social Interactions at Work

Augustine continues: “If you're introverted and find the idea of socializing with your colleagues to be overwhelming, start small. Look for opportunities to connect with colleagues in smaller groups or one-on-one settings, such as coffee meetings or lunch outings.”

“You can also invite a colleague for a virtual coffee break or set up a watch party with a group where you can discuss the show or movie via Zoom or an instant messaging platform afterwards. Using digital platforms like these is especially helpful if you work remotely; as an added bonus, it can lift some of the pressure that comes with in-person get-togethers.” 

“If you decide to take the plunge and attend an in-person happy hour or work party, bring along a colleague you feel comfortable with, which can provide you with a sense of security and make it easier to approach others. While socializing with your colleagues may not be your favorite activity, this investment into your career can pay off.”

Methodology and Resources

This survey was conducted online within the United States between April 8, 2024 and April 9, 2024, among 1,000 career-driven professionals aged 18 and older.

On an ongoing basis, the data science team at TopResume compiles nationwide data to better understand current behavioral trends in the job market and workplace.

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