Employees Behaving Badly

09.07.2015
HR & Safety

Have you ever witnessed these childish antics?

Whining, pouting, and temper tantrums are no longer confined to elementary school playgrounds or reality TV show reunions: Such childish behavior is also prevalent in today’s workplace. According to a new CareerBuilder survey, 3 in 4 employees (77%) have witnessed some type of childish behavior among colleagues in the workplace.

The national online surveys were conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder by Harris Poll between May 14 and June 3, 2015, and included a representative sample of more than 3,000 full-time, U.S. workers and more than 2,000 full-time, U.S. hiring and human resources managers across industries and company sizes.

Top 10 Adolescent Behaviors in the Workplace

When asked which child-like behaviors they’ve witnessed colleagues displaying in the workplace, workers gave the following answers:

  1. Whine: 55%
  2. Pout over something that didn’t go his/her way: 46%
  3. Tattle on another coworker: 44%
  4. Play a prank on another coworker: 36%
  5. Make a face behind someone’s back: 35%
  6. Form a clique: 32%
  7. Start a rumor about a coworker: 30%
  8. Storm out of the room: 29%
  9. Throw a tantrum: 27%
  10. Refuse to share resources with others: 23%

Real-Life Incidents of Childishness at Work

These behaviors do not go unnoticed by management. When asked to name specific immature or adolescent behaviors they have seen at work, employers reported the following observations of one or more employees:

  • Company owner threw tantrums, yelled, and slammed doors when he didn’t get his way.
  • Employee hid to get away from duties and work responsibility.
  • Employee intentionally set up a coworker to get him/her in trouble.
  • Employee ate other employees’ food from the company refrigerator.
  • Employee blocked parking spots to prevent other employees from parking closer to the front door.
  • Employee gossiped about all of his direct reports then pretended to be their advocate.
  • Employee constantly pulled up inappropriate content on her cell phone and showed it to her “clique.”
  • Employee went to lunch and never came back.

Playing Around or Playing with Fire?

“Some degree of what we may consider ‘adolescent’ conduct can be harmless, enabling employees to let off some steam and even promote a sense of camaraderie in the office,” said Rosemary Haefner, chief human resources officer at CareerBuilder. “But there’s a fine line between innocent fun and inappropriate behavior. Actions like spreading rumors, ‘tattling,’ and forming cliques to exclude others can be perceived as mean-spirited, bullying, and even harassment.”

Displaying adolescent behavior in the workplace can also take a toll on one’s professional brand. An earlier 2015 CareerBuilder survey among employers found that certain adolescent behaviors can have a negative impact on an employee’s chances of being promoted, including:

  • Negativity. A majority of employers (62%) say they are less likely to promote employees who have a negative or pessimistic attitude (whining, pouting, etc.).
  • Vulgar language. More than half of employers (51%) consider vulgar language an indication that an employee is not ready for promotion.
  • Gossip. Nearly half of employers (44%) say they would think twice before moving an employee who participates in office gossip up the ranks.
  • Sloppiness. Employees who do not clean up after themselves can hurt their chances for a promotion in the eyes of 36% of employers.

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