Ever think there's shady stuff goin' down in your office? Be thankful you don't work in "The Office's" Scranton, Penn. branch of Dunder-Mifflin. The hit TV comedy is filled with un-workplace-like behavior: Jim Halpert kissing his co-worker, Pam Beesly, on Casino Night. Meredith Palmer downing numerous vodka-based drinks at work. Michael Scott spreading rumors (even though they were true) about Oscar Martinez's sexuality.
Smooching co-workers, consuming alcoholic beverages and spreading rumors about colleagues are all considered workplace taboos, according to a new CareerBuilder.com survey. Thirty-five percent of those surveyed have puckered up with a co-worker and 31 percent have tipped the bottle while on the job. Not to mention the 19 percent of workers who have spread a rumor about a fellow employee.
"As companies continue to embrace more casual environments, employees may develop a false sense of informality when it comes to the office behavior," says Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder.com. "Employees should make sure they are aware of company policies, so something that initially seems 'harmless' doesn't end up negatively impacting a career."
Other workplace taboos that American workers have committed include:
- Falling asleep at work (42 percent)
- Stealing from the office (21 percent)
- Snooping after hours (17 percent)
- Lying about an academic background (4 percent)
- Taking credit for someone else's work (2 percent)
Certain industries reported engaging in office taboos more frequently than others. For instance, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of government workers admit to having fallen asleep on the job compared to just 31 percent of all retail workers. Twenty-five percent of hospitality workers snooped around the office after hours compared to 15 percent of healthcare employees.
Check out how the following industries weighed in on these office taboos:
1. Falling asleep at work
When Michael F. was having trouble with his cable service, a technician came out to fix the problem. After waiting on the phone with the support team for over an hour to activate the new modem, the technician fell asleep -- on Michael's couch.
Forty-one percent of sales representatives have snoozed on the clock, along with over half (51 percent) of all information technology (IT) workers surveyed. Another 43 percent of healthcare and hospitality workers have dozed off at their desks, along with 41 percent of those employed in banking and finance.
2. Kissing a co-worker
The aforementioned kiss between Jim and Pam didn't initially fare well for their work relationship -- in fact, shortly after, Jim transferred offices completely. OK, things worked out for them in the end, but not before Pam called off her wedding with Roy, Roy tried to attack Jim and was fired, and Jim entered into an ill-fated romance with co-worker Karen.
More than half (52 percent) of hospitality workers and 38 percent of all retail workers have smooched with a co-worker, according to the survey. Just 33 percent of education workers have puckered up compared to nearly half (47 percent) of IT workers.
3. Drinking alcohol on the job
In February 2007, CBS 2 News launched a hidden camera investigation that caught several construction workers drinking beer and whiskey on their lunch break before heading back to work. Despite safety issues and lack of concentration after drinking, startling percentages of workers have tipped the bottle on the job.
Sales representatives led the industries surveyed with 30 percent of workers admitting to knocking back a few at work. Twenty-six percent of banking and finance employees have drank on the job, along with just 12 percent of healthcare workers.
4. Stealing from the office
Anthony Zuniga, 53, was recently arrested and imprisoned for stealing 5,937 Netflix DVDs and 1,497 Blockbuster DVDs from the mail when he worked as a U.S. postal worker. While most employees are nabbing staplers and pens, it's stealing all the same.
All industries surveyed admitted stealing from the office within five percent of each other, ranging from 21 percent of healthcare workers to 26 percent of education employees, with the exception of retail workers, who reported 15 percent.
5. Spreading rumors about a co-worker
Gossiping about co-workers is no minor offense -- in May 2007, four workers with 46 years of experience between them were fired for gossiping and starting rumors about a colleague and the town administrator.
Thirty-nine percent of government employees plead guilty of the same crime, according to the survey. Twenty-five percent of sales representatives have fed the rumor mill in their offices, while only 12 percent of IT workers have done so.
6. Snooping after hours
You name it, it's been done -- whether digging through someone's desk, sifting through discarded files and even logging onto co-worker's laptops. Bonnie R. nosed around a co-worker's background. She created a fictitious company to obtain information on someone she knew was fired by a law firm. She called the law firm's HR department and identified herself by saying, 'I'm with Quick Staff, a temporary staffing agency. I'm going over the application of Peggy Sue Smith. Peggy was quite candid with me over her recent firing so I'm just contacting you for a little background.'
"While I expected to obtain some information I was not prepared for the in-depth level of dishing this firm's top HR person then dished," Bonnie says.
Retail workers were least likely to snoop after hours according to the survey, with only 14 percent of employees having done so. Government employees led the industries with 26 percent of employees having poked around after hours.
Last Updated: 17/12/2009 - 5:45 PM
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