HR Strange But True!
November 01, 2007

We hate to be the ones to tell you, but your co-workers don't like all of those rumors you've been spreading. And they really wish you'd get your act together and get things done on time. Oh, and while you're at it, how about cleaning up your dishes in the lunchroom sink?

A survey by Randstad USA found that the top three pet peeves found in the workplace (among those who said they have a biggest pet peeve) are gossip (selected by 60 percent of those respondents), others' poor time management skills (54 percent) and messiness in communal spaces (45 percent).

Rounding out the not-so-magnificent seven are potent scents (42 percent), loud noises (41 percent), overuse of electronic personal communications devices in meetings (28 percent) and misuse of email (22 percent), according to the survey by Randstad, an Atlanta-based employment services provider.

How workers deal with their pet peeves varies widely by the infraction. For instance, while gossip is the leading annoyance, it is tied with misuse of e-mail as the peeve that people are most likely to keep quiet about. On the other hand, loud noises (speaker phones, loud talkers, cell phone ring tones) and messiness in communal spaces are the sins most likely to prompt a tongue-lashing from your colleagues, and poor time management is the fault most likely to get you busted to your boss.

The top peeves and the responses they elicit break down as follows:

Employees' likely responses when encountering the top seven workplace peeves Say something directly to person(s) % Say something to boss/supervisor % Say nothing %
1. Gossip 34 8 41
2. Other's poor time management 28 20 29
3. Messiness in communal spaces 38 17 22
4. Potent scents (e.g. perfume/cologne, food, smoke) 28 16 34
5. Loud noises (e.g. speaker phones, loud talkers, cell phone ring tones) 42 15 24
6. Overuse of personal communications devices in meetings (e.g., PDAs, phones, laptops) 35 16 32
7. Misuse of email (e.g., emailing too often, replying "all" and use of blind carbon copying (BCC) 25 11 41

Randstad commissions quarterly surveys on workplace trends. This one was conducted online by Harris Interactive between July 11-13, 2007, among 2,429 U.S. adults aged 18 and over, among whom 1,540 were employed.

Source: Randstad USA press release

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