What annoys Brits most at the office

Survey shows that what makes office workers tick and what ticks them off

What are the current workplace buzzwords or phrases that make you cringe and/or get your back up?

A survey has revealed that the top three are “touch base”, “are we on the same page?” and “let’s hit the ground running”.

Mine is “I intend no disrespect, but…” which is always uttered just before a work colleague goes on to try to put you down.

Another is “I understand where you are coming from” when really they haven’t got a clue what you are trying to say – a sure case of not being on the same page? The phrase always precedes a “but”.

The research underlines many things about office life that will come as little surprise. But it’s nice to to discover that independent research reaffirms many of the things you feel you already know.

The survey was undertaken by Vanquis Bank following the success of TV shows like The Office and fly-on-the-wall documentaries like The Armstrongs.

And the survey did not limit its research to annoying phrases and sayings. It also looked at other areas of annoyance.

If you’ve found yourself arguing over the air conditioning or complaining about the state of the office kitchen, you’re not alone! A study reveals that poor food hygiene and cleanliness are the nation’s biggest grievances, with 85% of UK office workers getting upset by colleagues leaving old food to turn rotten in the fridge, with 83% getting frustrated by messy kitchens and bathrooms.

Where I work, microwaving fish has resulted in polite requests being posted on the machine asking you not to do it. Guilty, your honour! Well, guilty before the polite notices were put up – not since.

Here are the nation’s biggest office gripes. Someone …

  1. leaving rotten food in the fridge or kitchen – 85%
  2. leaving a mess in the kitchen, bathroom or other communal areas – 83%
  3. using discriminatory or rude language (i.e. swearing, racism, sexism) – 81%
  4. leaving passive-aggressive notes in a communal area – 74%
  5. playing loud music on their work computer – 74%
  6. changing the settings on the heating/air con – 67%
  7. cooking smelly food in the office kitchen – 66%
  8. getting promoted over them – 61%

But, back to the nation’s most hated buzzwords. Those odd little words and phrases that are completely meaningless but seem to get sent around in offices across the country. Here are the nation’s most hated buzzwords:

  1. Touch base – 23.1%
  2. Are we on the same page? – 22.2%
  3. Let’s hit the ground running – 18.5%
  4. I appreciate you must be really busy, but – 17.2%
  5. Moving forward – 16.2%
  6. My door is always open – 16%
  7. Deets (details) – 15.9%
  8. ASAP (as soon as possible) – 15.6%
  9. Synergy – 14.7%
  10. As per my request – 14.6%

In recent years, there has been a noticeable rise in workers accepting promotions without (immediate) pay rises. But is this the same across all industries? Vanquis found that 20.5% of Brits across all sectors would take a promotion without a pay rise, while 42.9% would consider it. But 36.6% would turn the offer down.

However, when you look at specific sectors, you get a much different story. Those in marketing are the most likely to take progression over pay, with 58% of marketing professionals saying they’d take a promotion without a pay rise. Agriculture and Environment came in second, with 46% of people working in that sector saying they’d take a promotion without a pay increase.

Here are the 10 sectors most likely to take a promotion without a pay rise:

  1. Marketing – 58%
  2. Agriculture and Environment – 46%
  3. Beauty and Wellbeing – 44%
  4. Art and Design – 39%
  5. IT and Digital Telecoms – 29%
  6. Media – 24%
  7. Construction – 22%
  8. Retail and Customer Services – 20%
  9. Science and Mathematics – 20%
  10. Security and Emergency Services – 20%

Of those surveyed, workers who would accept or consider a promotion without a pay rise said their main motivation for doing so was to secure a better job in the future (68.6%).

What would you do to get promoted?

The most common method for attempting to gain a promotion was to take on additional work to impress senior colleagues, with 32.5% admitting to doing so. This was closely followed by paying compliments to senior colleagues and/or bosses (25.1%) while flirting came in third at 12.9%.

Around 10% of Brits admitted to sabotaging a rival colleague’s career for personal gain, while 9.6% offered money to a colleague in exchange for a promotion.

One in 10 Brits would flirt their way to a promotion!

Results show that 12.9% of UK office workers would flirt with their boss in order to secure a promotion, while 11.1% would wear suggestive clothing.

The research looked at what Brits will do to get promoted, with the most common method being to take on additional work, with 35.2% saying they’d happily do this. This was closely followed by complimenting a senior colleague or boss, with 25.1%.

Here are the top things Brits will do to get promoted:

  1. Take on additional work – 35.2%
  2. Compliment a senior colleague/boss – 25.1%
  3. Flirt with a senior colleague/boss – 12.9%
  4. Wear suggestive clothing – 11.1%
  5. Offer money outside of the workplace – 9.6%
  6. Sabotage a rival’s career – 9%
  7. Blackmail a senior colleague/boss – 8.3%

The study also looked into what Brits are doing to deal with annoying colleagues, with 40% saying they’ve had a verbal confrontation with someone at work, while 32% have complained to their boss about a colleague.

Here are the top things Brits are doing to combat annoying colleagues:

  1. Verbal confrontation – 40%
  2. Complaining to their boss – 32%
  3. Badmouthing someone and their work to other colleagues behind their back – 27%
  4. Complaining to HR – 21%
  5. Trying to embarrass them in meetings in front of colleagues or clients – 14%

Ah, office politics – don’t you just love them?

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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