HR Strange But True!
March 16, 2006

American office workers would like some of their colleagues to kindly put a sock in it.

In a recent survey, 32 percent of employees listed "loud talkers" as one of their biggest pet peeves in the office, even more than cell phones ringing (30 percent), use of speakerphones in public areas (22 percent), and using personal digital assistants (PDAs) during meetings (9 percent).

A total of 2,318 employees were surveyed online by Harris Interactive for Randstad USA, a workforce solutions company. Throughout 2006, Randstad is commissioning a monthly survey on relevant and provocative workplace trends.

The survey on workplace etiquette indicates that American employees are "disciplined in their jobs, skipping lunch breaks and working longer hours that cut into the weekend," said Genia Spencer, managing director of operations and human resources for Randstad USA. "Employees are focusing on productivity, and they are looking to their colleagues and employers to limit excessive distractions."

In addition to disruptive behaviors, off-color language is unacceptable in the workplace. According to the survey, fully 91 percent of employed adults think profanity is unacceptable in the workplace.

The survey's findings include:

Top Pet Peeves:

  • 44 percent noted condescending tones as one of their biggest pet peeves at work.
  • 37 percent cited public reprimands as a big pet peeve.
  • 34 percent selected micromanaging as one of their biggest pet peeves.
  • Nearly one-third (32 percent) rated loud talkers as one of their biggest pet peeves.
  • 30 percent listed cell phones ringing at work as one of their greatest annoyances.
  • 22 percent cite the use of speakerphones in public areas as one of their biggest complaints.
  • 11 percent find it annoying when colleagues engage in personal conversations in the workplace.
  • 9 percent find the use of PDAs during meetings to be offensive.
Personal Work Habits:
  • Nearly two in five employed U.S. adults (38 percent) indicated they do not usually take a lunch break.
  • One-third (33 percent) state they work overtime without additional compensation.
  • 31 percent work on Sundays.
  • 91 percent say they do not call in sick when they're not really sick.
  • 91 percent think profanity is unacceptable in the workplace.
Source: Randstad USA

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