Gen Z is the generation that will soon take over the office, so it’s important for both their future managers and coworkers to get to know the younger employees’ expectations. In order to make things easier, we conducted an office survey trying to understand exactly that. Among other things, we asked our Gen Z respondents to rank ten office behaviors based on how much these bother them. If your New Year’s resolutions include improving your relationship with your Gen Z coworkers, read on to find out which office behaviors you should avoid.
1. Leaving a mess in the common areas (e.g. kitchen, break room) and not cleaning it up
Nobody likes walking into the kitchen and finding dirty cups, crusty plates, food splashes, and crumbs everywhere. Catching a whiff of rancid leftovers every time you open the fridge is the stuff of nightmares, and so are dried-out microwave food explosions. What’s even worse is desperately trying to use a messy toilet without touching anything. Your coworkers don’t have the time to clean that up, and they shouldn’t have to either. So, pick up that sponge and start scrubbing.
2. Not taking care of personal hygiene
There is no sugarcoating it: skipping the shower is never an option, no matter how tired you are or how late it’s going to make you. According to our respondents, Gen Z workers would rather wait for a colleague that’s late than have to smell their unpleasant body odor. Moreover, not taking care of your personal hygiene is not only bothersome to others, but it can also impact your professional image. Your boss can get the wrong idea about your work attitude and you could be overlooked when it comes to promotions, meetings with clients or even company events.
3. Asking for help with the same tech problems again and again, instead of learning how to fix them
This isn’t about the tech savvy Gen Zers who are too arrogant to lend a helping hand. Nobody likes to repeat the same instructions over and over again, no matter their age. So, if you have trouble remembering how to solve a recurrent problem, try writing down the solution instead of constantly asking for help. Also, always check if your problem can be solved with a simple Google search before interrupting your colleagues’ work.
4. Taking other people’s food from the common fridge
If your company provides tea, coffee or snacks, it’s only natural that you get to enjoy them. However, don’t go overboard and start taking other people’s sandwiches from the common fridge. We all remember that “Friends” episode and know it doesn’t end well. Always ask before assuming something is up for grabs but be careful not to become the office moocher. And no, ketchup, spices and salad dressings are not exceptions.
5. Sharing/Asking for too much information about personal things
Maintaining a good relationship with your coworkers is important, so lunchtime conversations, dinners with the team or office parties are not something you should easily overlook. However, revealing or asking for too much information about things like personal finance or romantic endeavors when talking to your coworkers is frowned upon. If you do it just for conversation’s sake and are not looking to pry, make sure your colleague is ok with the subject. Are they making eye contact or looking at their phone?
6. Coming in to work sick (when it’s obviously contagious)
Coming in to work when you clearly can’t be productive is not doing anybody any favors. Sneezing or coughing without covering your mouth or using a tissue is guaranteed to spread the disease. And so is touching door handles and copier or elevator buttons. If you absolutely have to get something done, consider working from home. Your colleagues, especially the younger ones, will appreciate it. During the flu season, try these tips to keep healthy and avoid contaminating the entire office.
7. Agreeing with the boss, no matter what, in order to look better
The fact that everyone hates this is no secret and our respondents are no exception. Agreeing with everything your boss says even when you don’t truly believe they’re right or even worse, becoming a tattletale, won’t help you advance your career. On the contrary, a good manager will be able to see through it. There are more efficient ways to impress your boss and they all start with good communication—understanding the company’s goals and your role there.
8. Being late for meetings
Habitually showing up late at meetings sends the message that you see your tasks as more important and your time as more valuable than your coworkers’. It makes you look unprofessional, disorganized, irresponsible and unreliable. However, if the situation arises and you are stuck in traffic or really have to take that important call with a client, you should let someone know. Call ahead and apologize, giving a short explanation about why you are late. Also, try your best to avoid doing it again. Nobody likes when things have to be repeated because someone didn’t make it on time.
9. “Forgetting” to put the personal phone on silent, so that it rings all throughout the day
Letting your personal phone ring and ping all day does not only distract you from your work, but it also affects your coworkers’ productivity. Remember to always set it on silent during work hours. If someone has to get in touch with you, set it on vibrate and put it in your pocket. When you talk on the phone, go outside, to a break room or somewhere where others won’t be disturbed. Most importantly, don’t look at your phone during a meeting unless it is for something related to that meeting.
10. Sending “funny” emails to everyone in the office
Workplace humor can help employees stay energized and motivated, but you have to know where to draw the line. Sending cat videos, GIFs or inappropriate jokes to your coworkers over email can end up costing you a lot more than you think. Also, adding to your colleague’s already-full inbox is rarely appreciated. Remember, always keep emails professional and if you’re ever in doubt, check out this list of things you should probably never send over work email.
Getting to Know Our Respondents
We conducted a nationwide survey of 406 respondents, asking them, among other things, to rank ten office behaviors based on what bothers them the most. We defined Gen Z as those born between 1995 and 2008. All survey respondents were over the age of 18, born between 1995 and 2000.
For creating the survey, we used Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and the survey platform SurveyMonkey. The number of respondents needed for it to be relevant was calculated using SurveyMonkey’s sample size calculator. We used Census data for the population estimate, a 5% margin of error and a 95% confidence level.