The 10 most irritating workers from Shirkers to Sneezers!

31 October 2007

A survey on office stress by Ceridian, one of the largest providers of human resource services in the world, identifies the ten most irritating types of workers from shirkers to sneezers.

A survey on office stress by Ceridian, one of the largest providers of human resource services in the world, identifies the ten most irritating types of workers from shirkers to sneezers.  Shirkers are singled out as individuals that stress out colleagues most.  While 21 per cent hate shirkers, only eight per cent of the 1,004 workers surveyed would ask their boss for help with the situation!

Colleagues who always seem to find excuses to avoid work stress out over a fifth of UK workers.
Tantrums and arguments in open spaces, whether in an open plan office, the corridor or the staff restaurant, set 11 per cent of people’s teeth on edge.
There’s nothing worse than being talked about behind one’s back or feeling excluded from private conversations.  At nine per cent, gossipers are the third most stressful type of co-worker.
Their glass is always half empty, they never see the positives in any situation and have a negative influence in the office.  Colleagues’ complaining about work upset eight per cent of their colleagues.
When they’re trying to concentrate, nothing is more guaranteed to stress out seven per cent of UK workers than fellow colleagues talking loudly on the phone or banging their keyboards as they type.
Meetings are the bane of every employee’s life so people who hijack meetings by raising irrelevant topics wind-up seven per cent of their colleagues.
Long coffee, tea, toilet and smoking breaks annoy six per cent of colleagues, leaving them feeling short-changed.
Noisy drinkers, eaters and gum chewers irritate five per cent of work colleagues.  Included in this category are people who can’t stop clicking their pens!
Workers swearing loudly upset five per cent of their colleagues.
About the last person workers like to see is someone with a streaming nose or spluttering cough.  Sick colleagues coming into work annoy four per cent of their healthy co-workers.

“Irritating habits may be funny when portrayed in sitcoms like ‘The Office,’ but in real life they’re no joke!  Employers should be on the lookout for annoying behaviours that stress out fellow workers,” observed Doug Sawers, managing director of Ceridian in the UK.  “Stressful and disruptive behaviour can affect office morale, productivity and, as a result, the bottom line.”

Of the 1,004 respondents participating in the online survey, commissioned by Ceridian in the UK, 55 per cent worked in organisations employing over 500 people, 79 per cent worked over 30 hours per week and 53 per cent were male.

Seven top tips to combat workplace stress

Ceridian offers the following seven tips to reduce workplace stress:

Set aside time for project work
Ignore or turn off your e-mail alert and divert your phone when working on important tasks so you can focus on the project at hand. Multi-tasking can make us less productive and it may be helpful to set aside time for focused effort each day.
Revisit timelines
Assess whether your timelines are realistic. Working toward deadlines you cannot meet is self-defeating.  Re-adjust the timeline when necessary.
Talk about it
Communicate concerns to your co-workers and suggest ideas for how to improve your situation. Ask for help with tasks that are easily delegated such as research, follow-up calls and other basic tasks.
Set boundaries
Find the appropriate balance between life and work. With 24/7 access to mobile phones, e-mail and PDAs, many modern workers need to be reminded to stop working after business hours or to fully recharge themselves during holiday periods. Time away from work will make you a more productive worker during normal office hours.
Eat lunch
Enjoy healthy food at lunchtime, each day. Instead of working through lunch, take the time to eat and enjoy a few minutes away from your work. Sit and talk with colleagues or take a quick walk.
Pay attention to posture
When you find yourself in a tense meeting, pay attention to your shoulders and arms.  Are they tense?  Try sitting with your palms face up on your lap.  This pose naturally relaxes your shoulders and relieves neck tension.  When sitting at your desk, are you hunched over?  Sit up and make sure your workstation is suitable.
Stretch, breathe and find perspective
It sounds simple, but moving your muscles and deeply filling your lungs several times a day can help you instantly lower tension and stress.  Take time on a regular basis to reconnect with your body, recognise stress as it escalates, and look at the big picture.  When you take time to reflect on your current state of affairs, you may often find that it’s not so bad after all.

The LifeWorks division at Ceridian has considerable experience of dealing with stress issues through its Employment Assistant Programme (EAP).  A key component of its EAP involves a stress management regimen that focuses on stress related to the workplace in four main areas: job-related stress, work relationships, work changes and time management issues.