- Displaying certain
- Knowing what some of the worst offenders are is the first step in not letting your bad habits get the best of you.
- These bad habits can range from showing up late to work to being the office slob.
Annoying your coworkers — while never a good idea — is one thing. But annoying your boss with
To help you avoid letting your bad habits get the best of you, we asked experts to highlight some of the least professional behaviors you could demonstrate at work that will put your job on the line.
Here are 19 things you could be doing all wrong that may make your boss think you're not right for the company:
Showing up late to work
"Punctuality is critical," etiquette and civility expert
"The professional thing to do is to arrive on time, ready to do what is expected. It's not like they just sprung this job on you," she says.
Rolling in 10 minutes late to every meeting
Similarly, showing up late to meetings shows that you neither respect your coworkers — who showed up on time, by the way — nor the meeting organizer, 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions
Being negative all the time
Talking about polarizing issues unrelated to work
"Before you pull up your soapbox, you should be aware that in most cases, free speech in the workplace is limited or non-existent when it comes to controversial movements or topics," Randall says.
As an employee expressing yourself at work, it turns out you have fewer protections than you'd think — and if your boss doesn't like what they hear, you could get fired for it.
Unless you signed some sort of contract that says otherwise, it's likely you're an at-will employee. This means that your job can be terminated without having to establish just cause.
There are labor laws that exist in the US to protect people against adverse employment actions due to discrimination. So if your boss fires you, for example, simply because you're a woman, that's wrongful termination, and you could sue them for that.
But very few laws exist that truly protect private sector employees against getting fired for expressing their political affiliation. There are a handful of states like New York and California with laws offering protections for political affiliation, but even those are fairly limited.
Soliciting signatures, volunteers, or donations
"Before you go cubicle to cubicle enlightening your coworkers about your cause, read the company policies and procedures manual. Most companies discourage or forbid promoting personal causes, especially on company time because it's deemed disruptive," Randall says.
Spouting off on social media
Your company may have specific policy outlining how you may use social media, so it's always a good idea to get acquainted with your employee handbook.
But generally, many employers take a negative view when you use social media to complain about your boss, coworkers, or clients, share company secrets, represent the company in a negative way, or make offensive comments.
Being on Facebook all the time
Even if you're not writing anything offensive, being on Facebook every time your boss walks by looks really bad, Oliver says. Unless it's work-related, many companies frown on using social media during work time, and especially using work equipment.
Playing '20 Questions' on every new assignment
There may be no stupid questions, Oliver says, but there are certainly annoying questions. These are the kinds of questions that prove you really don't want to do the assignment or illustrate you only want to hear yourself talk.
"When you receive a new assignment, gather your questions, and pose them in an organized way," Oliver suggests. "Never just spout out question after question off the cuff."
Practicing poor hygiene and grooming
Being a slob
"Whether you're at your desk or in the break room, being known as the office slob is never a compliment," says
When you clog the office kitchen sink and leave your garbage around, who exactly are you expecting to clean up after you?
"Leaving your mess behind shows lack of responsibility or consideration, arrogance, and immaturity," Randall says.
Similarly, your workspace can be a reflection of you, she says.
"If you're like me, who works well in a semi-messy environment, it can be inhibiting to be clutter-free. But with open cubicles or workspaces, the professional thing to do is to make some compromises," Randall says. "It would be disrespectful and inconsiderate to expect your coworkers to deal with your mess."
According to Haefner, employees who don't clean up after themselves can hurt their chances for a promotion in the eyes of 36% of employers.
Calling in sick when you aren't
"Remember the adage that half of life is showing up," Oliver says.
You won't prove you deserve the promotion if you call in sick every few weeks.
It seems like almost every office has one or two people who sell cookies for their kids. But Randall says that some companies prohibit soliciting at work because it takes up work time and places people in an awkward position. Breaking the rules could be grounds for firing.
Being distracted during meetings
"There is a reason why texting is illegal while driving: It's impossible to concentrate fully on two things simultaneously,"
Making personal calls all day long
Being overtly cliquey
"Maybe the new guy who smells like French Onion Soup is not your favorite person on staff," Oliver says. "That's no reason to flee him every time he asks you for help on an assignment." Nor should you be spreading gossip about him, Haefner says.
It's best to act friendly toward everyone, Oliver explains: "You will come across as more of a team player and show you have management aptitude."
And according to Haefner, nearly half of the employers CareerBuilder surveyed say they would think twice before moving an employee who participates in office gossip up the ranks.
"Take care that any criticism you make about someone's performance is deemed to be constructive, measured, and deserved," Oliver suggests. Not keeping the discourse civil could cost you your job.
"There is a line between curiosity and nosiness, which you don't want to cross," Oliver says. Curiosity, she explains, is when you ask who the new hire is. Nosiness, on the other hand, is when you rifle through your boss's files to see how much the woman three cubicles down earns.
Raiding the supply closet
Taking home a yellow pad of paper and a few pens if you're going to be working from home all weekend is acceptable behavior. But when you raid the supply closet and stash pads of paper, flash drives, notebooks, and folders, you're essentially stealing money from the company, Oliver says.
"Ask yourself if you are really using it for work. If not, leave it be," she says.
The same rule applies for using the phones to make long distance personal calls and using the Xerox machine to make copies of your great American novel.
Drinking on the job
Some employers stock beer in the fridge and host weekly happy hours. Others do not. If you work for the latter kind of company, drinking on the job is an easy way to get yourself fired. In fact, a survey by The Ladders of managers who have terminated employees for office etiquette offenses found that 35% of bosses surveyed have fired people for boozing at work.
Even if social drinking is part of a company's work culture, it's still not a good idea to drink at work so frequently that you become labeled the office drunk. This rule of thumb also extends outside the office at company gatherings and happy hours.
Looking for another job while you're at work
Just like being on Facebook or making personal phone calls all day are inadvisable, it's especially poor form to spend company time on your job hunt. You might as well ask your boss to fire you now.
Even mentioning your job search to coworkers could pose a serious problem. They may share, intentionally or not, that you're looking for another job, "which could explain your lack of productivity and absences, resulting in a poor reference or an invitation to pick up your paycheck earlier than you expected," Randall says.