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The five topics you should NEVER discuss at work

29th Mar 18 8:11 am

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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 per cent) of professionals believe there are some topics you should never discuss with your co-workers. That’s according to the latest data from CV-Library, the UK’s leading independent job site.

The study of 1,100 professionals explored the topic of friendships and openness at work, with over half (50.9 per cent) 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: 

  1. Salaries – 67.5 per cent
  2. Office relationships – 65.5 per cent
  3. Your relationships outside of work – 57 per cent
  4. Why someone was let go – 52.9 per cent
  5. Your boss – 47.3 per cent

When asked why they deem these types conversations to be inappropriate for the workplace, 59 per cent said this was because they could be seen as unprofessional. What’s more, one in four (22.4 per cent) said they could cause tension or ill-feeling amongst the workforce.

Lee Biggins, founder and managing director of CV-Library, comments: “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 per cent) believe that you should be able to discuss what you want with your co-workers, with 50.6 per cent agreeing that because we spend a lot of time at work, it’s natural to want to discuss our lives. A further 34.6 per cent 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.”

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