4 Words That Could Protect You From Layoffs

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THE OFFICE -- "Customer Survey" Episode 6 -- Pictured: (l-r) Phyllis Smith as Phyllis Lapin, Leslie David Baker as Stanley Hudson.
Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/

After combing through two years’ worth of emails, instant messages, and calendar invites from employees at a large IT firm, researchers identified a few keywords that kept popping up in messages from the workers who managed to survive layoffs at the company. These keywords are probably not what you’d expect: They are baseball, football, coffee, and lunch.

What’s especially interesting is that these employees were not necessarily the most productive; their efforts didn’t bring in the most money for the firm. This, the authors argue, suggests that the social aspect of work is just as important — maybe more — as productivity. “There is something intangible that the employee is offering,” lead author Lynn Wu told The Wall Street Journal. It’s often not enough just get to the office, do your work, and get out of there, in other words. People actually have to like you, too.