SURVEY SAYS: Workplace Chats Not Related to Work

October 13, 2014 ( - There is so much going on in the world and our lives that we can’t all possibly think about work all the time.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Which “water-cooler” topics, not related to work, are dominating conversations in your workplace right now?”

Of the things going on in the world, Ebola (49%) was the top topic responding readers said they and their coworkers are talking about. This was followed by professional or college football (41.2%), and major league baseball (27.5%) rounded out the top three.

Other issues ranked as follows:

  • The recent stock market drop – 5.9%;
  • The Middle East conflicts – 15.7%;
  • The Hong Kong protests – 0%;
  • The upcoming elections – 11.8%;
  • The movie/book “Gone Girl” – 11.8%;
  • Other recent movies and books – 5.9%;
  • Reality TV shows – 3.9%;
  • Other TV shows – 13.7%;
  • Children’s sports activities – 13.7%;
  • Protests in Missouri – 2%;
  • Secret Service inquiries – 0%;
  • Recent data security breaches – 3.9%;
  • Office gossip/politics – 11.8%;
  • Employees’ social/dating lives – 7.8%;
  • Summer vacation experiences – 2%;
  • The upcoming holidays – 7.8%;
  • Halloween plans/costumes – 11.8%; and
  • All of the above – 0%.


Different topics mentioned by respondents who selected “other” were increase costs of benefits which results in a decrease of disposable income, the blood moon, and general government problems. “Other” topics included:

  • Dodgers and Angels Loss- The College Football upsets of last weekend and what is going to happen with the new college bowl system.
  • All Government mishaps-Obamacare, IRS Scandal, Bengazi, Ebola, border control, etc.
  • Being from the New Orleans area, it's been about the 2 teachers who had three-way s.ex with their high school student. Maybe not the most HR appropriate topic...
  • Lack of leadership in government, government corruption.
  • The Blood Moon
  • Fantasy Football
  • I am working too hard and too long to listen or participate in "water cooler" conversations
  • Local events in community such as ISD embezzlement and scams
  • How bad the world has become and what monsters people are
  • Upcoming election
  • sports is always a hot topic, but today we are all talking about our "Boots for Bill" day, an attempt to improve office morale
  • Increase costs of Benefits which results in a decrease of disposable income.
  • SEC Football - Especially Mississippi teams


Zombies and grandchildren were topics also mentioned in responding readers’ verbatim comments about workplace conversations not related to work. A couple mentioned how such chatter is necessary to break up a work day—“thank goodness we have SOMETHING else to talk about...”—while one reader seemed perturbed with the work interruption. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “Are you kidding. Here, when HR approaches the water-cooler they still scatter or hush. I can, however, guarantee one thing - it's definitely not about planning for retirement.”

A big thank you to everyone who participated in our survey!


Since we are in Kansas City, the Royals' success in getting to the post-season (and now to AL division series) for the first time in 29 years is the talk of the town!!! Some of us are following the Cardinals too -- hoping for a repeat (literally) of the 1985 I-70 World Series!

It truly amazes me how some people can spend 20 minutes talking about personal conversations around the water cooler yet talk about work at the lunch table.

Mostly Sports Talk around here!

Funny, we always think the US has all of the answers and sometimes we do not.

Zombies!!! Walking Dead starts this weekend, which means it's all about the zombies!

Back in the playoffs after 29 years. What else is there to talk about in Kansas City?

What? What? Fantasy Football doesn't make your list? I am truly shocked at this fumble.

I don't have the time or the desire to listen or participate in "water cooler" conversations. I tune them out and focus on my work so that I can have an "after work" life. I am known for being able to take on an assignment and see it to completion accurately and timely. With that said the person who sits next to me spends at least an hour every day gossiping with others ( in addition to stepping away for lunch and breaks) Thankfully I can "tune them out" and focus on my work. With that said, it is annoying when they complain about having too much work to do and not being able to get it all done. On the other hand they are the same ones that are seen as approachable and fun at work. Go figure!

Since we are a small company, we are usually sharing grandchildren experiences.

When you live in the heart of SEC Country there can only be ONE topic of conversation year round - SEC FOOTBALL!!! You might turn up your nose at that but frankly some of the above is much sillier and most of the rest won't be impacted in any way by water-cooler conversations. Of course neither will SEC FOOTBALL but no one expects any results on that topic. Besides we don't have a water cooler where I work.

Verbatim (cont.)

Royals vs Orioles - it's been a long time coming, watch out for Billy's stolen bases!

They are a necessary diversion that allows me to keep my sanity!

They are healthy and a good way to maintain morale and productivity. However, there's always that one person who hijacks the conversation, takes it places nobody wants to go, and then drags it out too long.

everyone talks about how bad things have gotten in the world but no one talks about how to make it better one individual at a time.

My friends/co-workers and I often talk about the idiot do nothing president of the US along with the fact that we can't wait until 2016!

The lack of government leadership and policy and what it is doing to this country.

Are you kidding. Here, when HR approaches the water-cooler they still scatter or hush. I can, however, guarantee one thing - it's definitely not about planning for retirement.

Michigan has two other hot topics. In the spring we talk about where the worst pot holes are and the rest of the year we talk about where all the road construction is to fix all the pot holes from the prior winter. How did you get to work? Or did you see the big hole on xxx street? are common questions.

Many conversations related to children, grandchildren and parents (family).

thank goodness we have SOMETHING else to talk about...


NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Asset International or its affiliates.