8 Bad Habits in the Workplace That Could Be Hurting Your Career

Feb 23, 2020

Good office etiquette is crucial to making it in your place of work. Bad habits in the workplace can have a serious impact on your productivity, others concentration and also your relationship with your colleagues and clients. 

Think you don’t have any bad habits? Take a look through the list below to see if you identify with any of them. If you do, now is the time to tackle them head-on and change your ways for the better… before it’s too late. 

Editor’s note: we collaborated with HR professional and independent writer Dakota Murphey to put together this post.

1. Procrastination

Are you someone who puts off tasks? Do you have a long to-do list but never seem to work through tasks? Whether it is a presentation or article you need to have written by a certain date, the less time you leave for yourself could mean less quality produced. Even if you think you work well under pressure, it’s important to give yourself as much preparation time as possible to ensure you produce the highest quality work. 

Procrastinating at work can not only hurt your own projects, but also those you work on with others. 

When working in a team, it’s important to consider other peoples’ deadlines and not put off work. You need to pull your weight in a team, don’t put off tasks and think you will be able to complete them in a short space of time, as it could reflect badly on you and your capabilities. 

Leaving things until the last minute could also cause you unnecessary stress at work, which is not a good habit to keep. 

2. Too many breaks

Another form of procrastination is taking too many breaks from your desk. Think you can put off that task that’s taking too long by making a cup of tea? By taking too many breaks, you are actually disrupting your concentration and therefore making it even harder to get back into a productive mindset.

Try scheduling in regular breaks from your desk to encourage a concentrated mind.  

3. Lying

It is good practice to never lie at work. If you lie and say you have done a task when you know you haven’t, it will undoubtedly catch you out at some point. 

If you lie about being ill or having an illness, it can be costly for the business as they will likely have to pay you for the sick day. One of the biggest reasons for lying about a sick day is sport. 58% of employees reportedly call in sick because they either want to attend or watch a sporting event. 

For you as an individual, lying can be damaging to your character as it makes you appear dishonest. When your reputation in the business is key to your success, you do not want to do anything that could jeopardise that. 

If you are caught out for lying, it could hinder the chance of getting a good reference or it could mean you miss out on a potential promotion. 

Remember to think about the potential consequences of your lie first and ask yourself: is it really worth lying for? 

nail your next interview ad

4. Poor communication

Communication is key in any job. Ignoring emails or forgetting about replying can be one of the simplest mistakes to make, but if you continue to put off replying to your emails, it can develop into a bad habit.

As soon as an email comes in, if you have an answer to it, do it then and there – don’t put it off. If you don’t have an answer or don’t have the time to reply to it, make sure you flag the email to remind you to reply to it later on. Make it a habit to go through your emails in the morning or evening, whichever your schedule allows, to check for any missed emails. 

It’s important to also take the time with your reply; don’t reply with short phrases, as this will not reflect well on you. Your tone of voice cannot be detected in emails, so remember to take care with your words and how you use them.

5. Poor time management

If you are struggling with your time management, you should try and make a list at the start of each week and on Monday, prioritise the easy tasks that need completing first, before moving onto the tasks you know will take you longer to complete. 

If your task requires help or input from others, it is best to give them as much notice as possible. Never ask someone last minute for their help as they might not have the time to offer you. 

If you have a bad habit of forgetting things, write them down on a post-it note immediately and place on your desk or write on your to-do list before you can forget. 

6. Showing up late

Following on from time management, it’s also important to not show up late. If you show up late for your job or a meeting, it shows a lack of care and planning. You remember when someone is late and so will your boss. Remember, being on time also counts for meetings and appointments with clients too, as this can be a deal-breaker for many people if they are hiring you or making a deal. 

29% of workers have admitted that they are late for work at least once a month, yet 53% of employers expect their employees to show up on time for work every day. 

Being consistently late can also be ground for dismissal as 41% of employers have admitted to firing someone for being late. It isn’t just in the office that showing up late can be detrimental to your career either, as 53% of homeowners do not like it when tradespeople fail to turn up when agreed to. 

If you do show up late to work, even if it is by accident, try and make up the time by working late, like 69% of workers have confessed to doing, all the while apologising to either your employer or the client. 

7. Bad office etiquette

Good office etiquette starts with being kind to others and treating others with respect. 

Think about others in the office workspace, by not taking personal phone calls in the middle of the office, using speakerphone or talking loudly on the phone. 36% of people rated this as the worst offence you could make in the office. 

If you are very sick, then simply don’t go into work and infect the rest of the office, as this will only be worse for the business if more staff have to take time off. 

8. Messy desk

Is your desk unorganised and cluttered? Do you week in and week out seem to gather mess on your desk? If so, you may want to change that. 

People will make an automatic judgment on your capabilities when they see your desk. To many, a desk represents how you take care of your work and your life. 30% say a tidy desk is an important aspect to presenting a professional image at work and 1 in 10 bosses said that a messy desk would make them reconsider promoting an employee. 

It isn’t just you who can be impacted by your own messy desk, it is also your workmates, as 40% said that a messy desk meant their colleagues were disorganised and 20% have said the messy desk has caused a negative impact on their working day.  

Banishing bad habits in the workplace: summary 

If you have recognised that you have some bad habits in the workplace, it’s time for a change. These habits could be potentially halting your progression at work. Start by making an actionable plan to develop better workplace habits, that will aid in your career advancement. 

Love this post? Check out some other great posts by Dakota Murphey!  

From dead-end-job to living your dream 

Social Media: Five Ways To Make Your Profiles Recruiter-Friendly 

Author Bio

Dakota Murphey has more than a decade of experience in a range of HR and Marketing roles. Since becoming a full-time mum, she enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge through her writing and connecting with like-minded professionals. Follow her on Twitter: @Dakota_Murphey

We hope that you enjoyed this post outlining 8 bad habits in the workplace! Before you go, check out our one-to-one coaching page to find out more about how we help students, graduates and career changers to land their dream jobs! 

Our latest posts

Courses that make your CV stand out from the crowd
Mar 29, 2020

Courses that make your CV stand out from the crowd

When it comes to your CV, you don’t have long to impress. In fact, studies show that recruiters spend an average of just 7 seconds looking at a...

Read post
12 Tips for working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak
Mar 23, 2020

12 Tips for working from home during the Coronavirus outbreak

As a result of the Coronavirus outbreak, Boris Johnson has advised the British public to work from home, in a bid to contain the Coronavirus...

Read post
22 Recruitment agencies for graduates
Mar 22, 2020

22 Recruitment agencies for graduates

If you’ve graduated, and are looking for a job, you may decide to sign up with some recruitment agencies. Luckily for you. we have compiled a list...

Read post
See All Blog Post