We spend a great deal of our time at work, so it’s not surprising that we form close bonds with our co-workers, often discussing our personal lives with them. Yet despite the importance of these friendships, the majority (91.2%) of professionals believe there are some topics you should never discuss with your co-workers. That’s according to the latest data from the UK’s independent job site, CV-Library.
The study of 1,100 professionals explored the topic of friendships and openness at work, with over half (50.9%) of workers admitting that they discuss their personal lives with their colleagues. Despite this, there are some topics of conversation that professionals believe you should avoid discussing. In fact, respondents said the following topics are best left at the door:
- Salaries – 67.5%
- Office relationships – 65.5%
- Your relationships outside of work – 57%
- Why someone was let go – 52.9%
- Your boss – 47.3%
When asked why they deem these types conversations to be inappropriate for the workplace, 59% said this was because they could be seen as unprofessional. What’s more, one in four (22.4%) said they could cause tension or ill-feeling amongst the workforce.
Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, says: “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. 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.
“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. And while 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.”
The study found that one in 10 (8.8%) believe that you should be able to discuss what you want with your co-workers, with 50.6% agreeing that because we spend a lot of time at work, it’s natural to want to discuss our lives. A further 34.6% said it’s important that we are able to speak our mind – even when we’re at work.
Biggins concludes: “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. 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.”