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Home  > Article

Firing Offenses -- How to Avoid a Protocol Pink Slip

By Nancy R. Mitchell, The Etiquette Advocate

There are numerous attitudes and behaviors that annoy, distress, or offend bosses and co-workers, but which ones can get you fired?

That question and others were answered by a recent survey of more than 2,000 executives conducted by TheLadders.com, an online marketplace for $100K+ jobs. If you have ever wondered about the workplace etiquette criteria on which you are being judged, the results of this survey may open your eyes and will help you to avoid hearing those dreaded words: Please pack your knives and go.

Supervisors' Etiquette Scorecard

            TheLadders.com report looked at how seriously senior managers viewed manners and office etiquette. 98.7% of survey respondents believed that the idea of office etiquette does exist, and the majority (69.7%) said that they would fire an employee for bad office manners. The bulk of respondents (82.4%) have given an official warning for etiquette offences such as personal calls, loud talking or revealing clothing.

            Of managers who have terminated employees for office etiquette offenses, the #1 common cause was swearing. TheLadders.com says that as the economy continues to sour, curse words have become standard parts of speech in many offices across the country. But they caution workers to beware, because swearing at work can cost you your job. Their survey results revealed 81.2% of senior execs find a foul mouthed colleague unacceptable to work alongside; 36% of U.S. bosses have issued a formal warning to employees who use foul language on the job; and 6% have fired an employee for swearing.  These statistics identified a foul mouth as the most punishable of all workplace etiquette offenses.

            The top 5 most common causes for etiquette-related firings were:

                        1. Bad language (38.4%)
                        2. Excessive workplace gossip (36.5%)
                        3. Drinking on the job (35.2%)
                        4. Leaving the office without telling anyone (33.6%)
                        5. Too many personal calls (28%)

Colleague-to-Colleague Offenses

            TheLadders.com survey reports that when it comes to dealing with bad behavior in the cubicle next-door, co-workers have a slightly higher threshold for bad language. While 81.2% said they deem swearing in the workplace unacceptable, the most offensive thing a co-worker can do to his or her colleagues is steal their food from the office refrigerator. A whopping 97.8% of respondents rated fridge raiders the worst offenders of workplace etiquette.

            When asked to rate the worst affronts to office etiquette among their colleagues, survey respondents selected the following most frequently:

1. Eating someone else's food from the fridge (97.8%)
2. Bad hygiene (95.6%)
3. Bad habits (88.2%)
4. Drinking on the job (85.7%)
5. Wasting paper (82%)

Other common office annoyances deemed unacceptable were cooking smelly food in the office microwave (74.1%) and sneaking peaks at a BlackBerry in meetings (63.5%).

            Marc Cenedella, CEO and founder of TheLadders.com, says: "Some argue that in the 21st century employers should move with the times and accept a more casual work environment. But employees beware.  In every office there exists an invisible line between professional and unprofessional, and it is very clear from our survey results that some common behaviors definitely cross the line."







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