SURVEY SAYS: What Workplace Behaviors Drive You Crazy?

May 12, 2011 ( - Yesterday we covered an Accountemps survey that outlined the coworker behaviors that most aggravated chief financial officers (CFOs).

This week I asked readers to share what tops THEIR list of obnoxious workplace behaviors.  CFOs, take note!  

First off, I asked readers to rank those CFO cited behaviors, at least as a point of comparison.  Interestingly enough, while the CFOs Accountemps canvassed said that presenting other’s ideas as their own was a relatively minor offense (5%), it topped our reader list, drawing the ire of a full 25%.   

That said, gossiping/engaging in office politics, cited by 23% of the CFOs, was cited by nearly as many (21.9%) of this week’s survey respondents.   

“Lacking attention to detail”, a top point of aggravation for the CFOs polled, was cited by 22% of our survey respondents, though presenting sloppy work and being perpetually late, two points of real concern for CFOs, were only cited by about 8% each of our poll respondents.   

But as I noted yesterday, I thought the Accountemps CFO list (see Sloppy Working Joes Annoying to Coworkers) was rather “bland” – and our readers validated that sense in sharing their own choices with me – and now you. 


A number involved noise: 

Loud talking (especially on personal phone calls) 

Playing music without headphones which, eating food that makes loud crunching sounds like carrots and talking really loud.  Even worse after you ask someone to use headphones to listen to music because it interferes with your work, they stop for a short time then go right back to playing their music.  Real considerate! 

Singing at your desk (in a cubicle environment). 

People using speaker phones at their desk because they are too lazy to pick up their phone. I have made loud unnecessary phone calls when people around me do this. I consider the day won when they get frustrated and finally pick up. 

Popping gum and radios without earphones (it's the age of iPods and ear buds, who needs to blast a radio for all to hear?) 

Taking all your calls on speaker phone in a cubicle environment 

Other annoying behavior....people who chit-chat during business hours, but insist on whispering rather than speak in a normal voice. You can still hear the, "psss, sppp, psss". 



There were, of course, “political” concerns:  ,  

Fake flattery to the C-suite. 

Changing your opinion/thoughts about something to match or agree with the boss's opinion (when shared) every time 



Not surprisingly, personal hygiene was also an issue: 

Talking with a mouth full of food. 

Clipping nails in the cubicle.  Yeah, that's right.  Hard for me to believe too, until I hear that distinctive sound, including the nail landing on the desk. 

Clipping fingernails in their cubicle. 

It's a tie between clipping fingernails and sleeping. 

There is a woman near our area who sneezes so loud that our customers think that we have sneezed and bless us.    It is a comical sounding AHHHH CHOOOOOO!    Evidently she wants to be the center of attention.   It is disruptive, distressing and disgusting all at the same time. 

Wearing too much perfume. 

What about the people who feel like they need to share their germs? Sticking the same fork that was in their mouth into the potluck dishes - or worse yet, their fingers? UGH! 



There were annoying personal habits: 

Hand in pocket jingling change - constantly!  I know many sounds are irritating but the clanking of coins together is shrill and cuts right through your consciousness so that you can't ignore the sound. ACKKKKK!! 

The mumbling and swearing as they work through their daily job.  After 24 years, you would think they know what they are doing. 

Wearing low cut, revealing attire and criticizing other employees for their unbecoming/revealing attire." 

"Talking loud so you're in on every conversation - including personal conversations. 

Stinky food. In a cubey world it may be delicious but it stinks to no end. Save it for home, please. 

Continually clearing your throat. When sick it's tolerable because there is a reason and it will end someday; when it's a habit please break it. 



Though unproductive work behaviors were perhaps the most numerous: 

Making excuses for not completing a job. 

People who work in sales, either as inside sales or customer service, who always put their phones on voice mail. 

Blaming others for reasons why they didn't get their work done. 

Those who take an attitude of "we've already looked at that and determined it doesn't fit" (having looked at it several years ago and not realizing/acknowledging that the situation and environment are different now) and the related and ever-annoying "that's how we've always done it." 

Doing nothing but talking all day from office to office and adding self to lots of meetings rather than try performing job for which being paid.  A variant of presenteeism. 

Missing deadlines and not tracking projects - what makes it worse is the wide-eyed, "Oh gosh....I didn't remember" expression on their face that always makes me think of the cartoon dog that said, "Which way did he go, George? Which way did he go?" 

It is natural for people to spend some time socializing at work, but seriously? Don't stand in the hallway right outside my office yakking loudly to each other. I've actually had clients on the phone ask if I needed to get off the phone to deal with whomever was trying to get my attention (they thought the gabbers were talking to me). Just be respectful people. 

Being lazy and always whining of being overworked and underpaid as they sit there gossiping about other employees. 

Corporate speak & phrase junkies suck. 

Not taking ownership of their work and / or not supporting each other. 

Making excuses and blaming others for missing deadlines 

Harshly criticizing others questions, ideas or suggestions in a group meeting.  Nothing stifles creativity and a sense of teamwork faster.  I have seen it destroy the ability of a team to perform it's functions successfully, much less develop a synergy that could make a team's accomplishments more than the capability of the individuals working alone. 

Creating a major issue over nothing (particularly when the person is wrong about the issue in the first place) 


Always putting work they are doing for me aside to do work for others because they think its not as important. 

Procrastinating until the last minute. 

We only have 40 employees and have an extremely generous benefits program and very nice working environment.  It drives me crazy when coworkers just keep asking for more and more.  A few have such a sense of entitlement it is a little absurd.  I have had employees who think the company should reimburse babysitting costs when they travel and/or pay for parking tickets.  The other behavior I find obnoxious is that people come and go as they please.  It is rather mystifying how some full-time employees spend so little time in the office -- what are they doing?  It is not possible to have that many offsite meetings. 

Not sharing work related information that affects others. 

Gossiping so much that deadlines are missed or co-workers have to work extra hard so that dead lines aren't missed. 

Constant moaning and complaining day after day about the same things that you can do absolutely nothing about. Sometimes you just have to find a way to deal with things. Stop trying to unload all your problems on me. 

Cranky co-workers are terribly discouraging to be around. Your afraid to ask a question for fear of being snapped at for no reason, and at times you're more fearful of them than you are of your boss. People need to get a clue and realize most of us are in this together... I say most because some have a unique ability to be present yet absent at the same time 



Definitely the one where they purport to be a team player, and yet do not actually participate in working on the project but instead critique everyone else's work. 

"Hours spent on personal phone calls or issues 

Constantly checking their Blackberry's during meetings" 

Complacency!  All I ask is that you give me eight hours a day.  Arrive on time, do your job - accurately and thoroughly - and stop worrying about what everyone else is or isn't doing. 

Failure to follow direction/procedures. 

What I find most obnoxious is when coworkers try to belittle you in front of your peers to make themselves get over (probably to try to cover their own insecurities). 



These were my “favorites”: 

Work for a company with offices across the country.  Biggest Pet Peeve is those in Eastern timezone schedule meetings at <8 AM Pacific, then cancel just before it starts (after you've already come in early). 

Just being a jerk. 

I don't like doing other people's work for them.  It seems like there are certain people who always have an excuse for not doing their required paperwork so I have to go behind them and do it for them.  If I'm doing their work, I should be getting some of their salary. 

Jekyll & Hyde types who say one thing and do completely another. 

Boasting when they accomplish something my 5 year old could have done better. 

Generally toxic behavior -- I call it being an Energy Vampire -- just sucks anything positive out of the air. 

Ignoring my requests. It's not like missing a deadline - they simply don't respond at all, sometimes for weeks! 


My incompetent boss' self-important behavior.  He brings pomposity to a whole new level. 

More of us are in smaller cubicles (including the "open concept" cubicle, with four sharing a space), which shines a light on behavior that might only be viewed by family. Funny how it can make work less productive. 

Too many people do the bare minimum to get the job done and feel special about it; no one proof reads or reconciles anymore.  Worker entitlement and apathy ticks me off. 

I guess someone's got to be the corporate bad guy, "chief of all that's right". I'm fine with it but will you move him/her out of my department, please. We (the rest of us) don't need/want the reputation. 

Coworkers that need to ask a question in a meeting, just so they can be seen asking a question. 

But this week’s Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who noted, “Why are there always a few people in any given office who never seem to have any work to do?” 

Thanks to everyone who participated in our survey!