When it comes to having an engaged workforce, who your employees work with — rather than who they report to — is an increasingly important factor, according to a recent survey.

The survey from TINYpulse reveals that relationships among co-workers are more responsible for their happiness than their managerial relationships by 23.3%. This finding is supported by a recent survey by the Society for Human Resource Professionals, which shows that 79% of respondents in 2012 regarded their relationships with co-workers as important, up from 76% in 2011. The same SHRM survey also shows that the importance of their relationships with direct supervisors dropped from 73% in 2011 to 71% in 2012.

Among the most desirable traits of co-workers are team play and collaboration, 44.3% of respondents say. Meanwhile, knowledge, skills and talent are considered the top traits of co-workers by only 26.4% of respondents.

"This shows that who you work with is becoming more important than who you work for,” says David Niu, founder and CEO of TINYpulse, which conducted the survey. “We often think of employee happiness and satisfaction as being manager-driven, but now as the workplace becomes more cross-matrixed, collaborative and ‘bottom-up,’ the importance of co-worker relationships continues to grow."

But the leading driver of employee engagement is management transparency, according to the survey.

"Not only are capital markets demanding transparency, employees want the same from their leadership,” says Niu. “The cost of improving transparency is almost zero, and we are seeing an increasing number of companies using transparency as an advantage when attracting and retaining top talent."

The survey findings suggest that organizations must focus on management transparency and recruiting more collaborative employees if they expect to keep employees engaged. Many respondents, however, are already practicing transparency as 82% say their managers have openly communicated their roles and responsibilities. Still, just 42% of respondents report knowing their organizations’ visions, missions and values.

The survey included more than 40,000 responses from 300 organizations.

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