When it comes to workplace etiquette, there are things that people consider generally dealable and then there are others that people think are “over the line” (to quote John Goodman’s character in The Big Lebowski.) Sometimes, coworkers and bosses encroaching on your personal and mental territory can be the thing that takes your job from “enjoyable” to “intolerable.”
Customized signage company Signs.com surveyed 800 people – half managers, half employees – about decorum at work, focusing on behaviors they found most inappropriate.
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Emails at night
Only 3% of non-management employees said they received zero work-related emails after working hours. All managers reported receiving at least one after-hours email every week – 12% said they received 21 or more emails after hours on a weekly basis.
These nighttime emails create a chain of obligation to reply. While only 5% of employees said they received the same amount of after-work emails as managers, 81% of employees felt obligated to respond in a timely fashion to those emails.
Feeling like you’re always “on” and working for free off the clock can contribute to free-floating stress and anxiety, indeed, about a third of respondents said they felt stress over after-hours work communication.
Bad employee etiquette
Bosses seemed to resent employees when they felt they were being taken advantage of, or breaking etiquette by abusing unspoken rules or abusing company time (i.e., lateness).
- 90% of bosses found chronic lateness unacceptable
- 83% getting romantic: making unwanted advances towards anyone at work
- 80% spending too much time on social media
- 77% making too many personal calls
- 76% telling inappropriate jokes
The top complaints from employees against their bosses’ breaches of work etiquette all had to do with abuse of power.
- Playing favorites was hated by 82% of men and a whopping 92% of women.
- Informal threats to fire employees were found unacceptable by 82% of men and 84% of women.
- Making romantic advances towards employees was deemed unacceptable by 81% of men and 82% of women
- Using the company expense accounts for personal use was resented by 79% of men and 85% of women
- Taking credit for other employees work was found unacceptable by 77% of men and 85% of women.
Then there are the little things …
that can turn into big irritants in the enclosed space of an office.
- Using a speakerphone in an open/shared office was found unacceptable by 65% of men and 75% of women
- Gossiping was found unacceptable by 66% of men and 70% of women
- Using ALL CAPS was found unacceptable by 62% of men and 69% of women
- Not silencing cellphones was found unacceptable by 52% of men and 60% of women
The takeaway? It’s been said before: managers and employees have different ideas about what’s a breach of etiquette. Employees, don’t be late, stay off social media, and be free to subtly fight back against stress: you’re probably not obligated to answer those after-hours emails.
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