Procurement · 29 March 2018

Revealed: The office conversations to avoid at all costs

office conversations
Half of respondents said it’s natural to want to discuss personal lives during work

UK professionals have decided which office conversations you should not discuss at your desk.

Researchers at jobs board CV-Library asked over half of 1,100 professionals what topics were off-limits in the office.

Number one on the list is salaries, with 67.5 per cent of people stating that wages are one thing that you should never discuss in the workplace.

Commenting on the rankings, Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, said: “Negative or unprofessional conversations can cause low morale.”

“Be sure to clearly outline your policies surrounding office gossip, particularly in terms of confidential news within the business. This could be salaries, redundancies or reasons why someone was let go.”

A huge 91 per cent of employees agreed that there are some topics that are best left at the door.

Respondent said the following office conversations are a big no-no:

  1. Salaries – 67.5 per cent
  2. Office relationships – 65.5 per cent
  3. Relationships outside of work – 57 per cent
  4. Why someone was let go – 52.9 per cent
  5. The boss – 47.3 per cent

When asked why they deem these types of conversations to be inappropriate, 59 per cent said it would be unprofessional.

A quarter said the listed topics would cause tension or ill-feeling amongst the workforce.

“While it’s natural that your employees will want to discuss their private lives with their co-workers, this shouldn’t come at the cost of overall productivity and certainly shouldn’t cause ill-feeling amongst the workforce,” added Biggins.

“Organising team social events or after work activities can be a great way for staff to catch up with one another outside of office hours and can help to boost morale.”

Although, it should not come as a surprise that many of us become close with colleagues and share information with one another.

Biggins said: “The friends we make at work are understandably important to us. So, it’s not surprising that topics of conversation can turn to our private lives, relationships or office gossip.”

This study explored the topic of friendships and openness at work and found that over half of workers had participated in personal life chats.

Results showed that one in 10 believed that you should be able to discuss what you want during office conversations.

Also, one third agreed that it is important to be able to speak your mind – even when at work.

Biggins concluded: “As an employer, this can be a tricky situation to navigate. While you want to nurture a friendly working environment and encourage staff to get along, you need to make sure you set a good example and lay down some ground rules.

“It may seem unnecessary and potentially impossible to put a cap on any chatter about your employees’ private lives, if you notice repeat offenders it could be time to take them to one side to discuss what’s going on.”



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Carly Hacon is a reporter for Business Advice. She has a BA in journalism from Kingston University, and has previously worked as a features editor for a local newspaper.