It's the little things - small annoyances can create turnover

You've heard it before: The devil is in the details. The straw that broke the camel’s back. It's the little things. An often ignored reason for turnover is not dissatisfaction with the employer, but an unpleasant office environment. While there are no studies on how many people leave a job because of an annoying co-worker, we have identified some of the most common culprits that will diminish the day to day working experience.

1. If you’re not early…
Being on time is essential good manners in any situation, but timeliness at work is critical. Encourage employees to respect their colleague's time just as they would their manager's time. Do not allow meetings to go over their scheduled time or you run the risk of causing people to be late to their next meeting, or you may also hinder others from using the office conference room.

2. Noisy neighbors
We have written before about the pros and cons of working in a cubicle. Many cubicle workers complain about a colleague who smacks gum, hums, speaks loudly on the phone or takes multiple personal calls throughout the day. No matter the source, studies have found that noise can negatively affect work task performance, including decreased accuracy, poorer short-term memory, and greater levels of fatigue. A study conducted at the University of Michigan Occupational Health Nursing Program found that continuous noise in the workplace caused an increase in blood pressure and heart rate. 

3.  It's business hours, not social time
Office noise is not the only distraction; there is also the colleague who wants to socialize by roaming from cubicle to cubicle to share a joke or who intends to sit in your office and chat for an hour. A good workaround to avoid these types of annoying office distractions: scope out the office layout to see who has a similar working style and ask to be assigned a nearby office or cubicle. According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School and Cornerstone OnDemand, placing the right type of workers near each other can increase performance by 15 percent.

4. Loose lips sink ships (and careers)
Office gossip causes low morale and a toxic environment. While you may expect everyone on your team to behave professionally, there are times when colleagues’ personalities simply will not mesh. If employees see that interpersonal conflicts are left unresolved, or that office gossip is allowed to fester, they will look for a more positive working environment. Adopt a personal policy to not participate in the rumor mill; it will demonstrate to colleagues that this is not acceptable behavior. 

5. Stay home when you are sick
Many employees do not use all of their vacation time, much less take time off for an illness. Only 16 percent of workers used all paid sick days, and 32 percent did not use any paid sick days in the past year, according to a 2016 survey conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard’s T.H. Clan School of Public Health. If an employee believes they cannot use their sick time because of deadline pressures or fear of losing ground in their position, they (and their germs!) will continue to show up at the office. Your company offers paid sick leave for a reason, make sure your employees understand that they can, and should, stay home when they are sick.

6. Your mother doesn’t work here - cleanliness and food
Right or wrong, the office is often a home away from home for your employees. While an office break room or kitchen is not exactly renowned for its cleanliness, it doesn’t have to be a source of conflict among your employees, either. Encourage employees to treat the office kitchen the way they would treat their kitchen at home. No one wants to smell reheated leftovers, especially if the smell lingers well past lunchtime. Many managers do not consider the effect inconsiderate behaviors are having on their employees.

Would you lose a key employee if the kitchen was dirty?  If people came to work while sick?  Maybe, or maybe not.  We have found that good managers and employees never leave a company for only one reason. However, combine numerous small complaints that are not addressed or resolved, and you weaken the ties that bind you.  

1 Comment

April 17, 2017 AT 5:50 PM CST

Mary Ann Rath wrote:

Very good article and great suggestions.

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