Watch Your Mouth! Foul Language Worst Employee Etiquette Offense

April 28, 2008 ( - Employees would do well to monitor what they say at work, since bad language and gossip were the top two etiquette offenses resulting in termination cited by managers recently surveyed.

A press release said the poll of more than 2,000 executives conducted by found that of managers who have terminated employees for office etiquette offenses, 38.4% cited bad language as the reason, and 36.5% cited workplace gossip.

Other etiquette offenses resulting in termination reported by managers, according to the press release, were:

  • Drinking on the job (35.2%),
  • Leaving the office without telling anyone (33.6%), and
  • Too many personal calls (28%).

Almost all (98.7%) survey respondents said the idea of office etiquette does exist and the majority (69.7%) said they would fire an employee for bad office manners. The bulk of respondents (82.4%) have given an official warning for etiquette offences such as personal calls, loud talking, or revealing clothing.

Survey respondents had a different take on what behavior is most offensive from a colleague than from subordinates. While, 81.2% of senior execs said a foul-mouthed colleague is unacceptable to work alongside, other offenses ranked higher, including:

  • Eating someone else’s food from the fridge (97.8%),
  • Bad hygiene (95.6%),
  • Bad habits (88.2%),
  • Drinking on the job (85.7%), and
  • Wastefulness with paper (82%).

Also deemed unacceptable by survey respondents were cooking smelly food in the office microwave (74.1%) and sneaking peaks at the BlackBerry in meetings (63.5%).