By Daniel Hunter

Office gossip, unnecessary all-staff emails and management speak are among the biggest bugbears for UK workers, according to a survey published by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).

In a survey of over 2,000 managers, two thirds (65%) cited colleagues arriving late in the morning or for meetings as their number one irritation. Three out of five managers (60%) are frustrated by gossip about other colleagues, 57% find all-staff emails irritating and 56% take issue with co-workers sending an email, rather than talking to them, despite sitting opposite.

The poll revealed that ‘management speak’ is used in almost two thirds (64%) of offices, with nearly a quarter (23%) considering it to be a pointless irritation. ‘Thinking outside the box’ (57%), ‘going forward’ (55%) and ‘let’s touch base’ (39%) were identified as the top three most overused pieces of jargon.

Food in the office was identified as another source of irritation, with almost two thirds (63%) saying that dirty bowls and plates left on desks after lunch get on their nerves. Caffeine was also a bone of contention, with the survey revealing that 28% of managers never make tea or coffee for their team.

Over a quarter (27%) of managers have had to reprimand staff for their office attire, with female managers finding revealing clothing (92%) to be most inappropriate for the workplace whilst flip flops (81%) topped the male managers’ list.

“When office-based teams work in close proximity for long periods of time, we see that seemingly trivial issues can grow disproportionately, if left unchecked, and begin to cause upset and resentment," Charles Elvin, Chief Executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management, said.

“A key part of any manager’s role is to help create and maintain a happy and harmonious working environment. This survey helps identify the potential problem areas to watch out for.

“By proactively dealing with potentially divisive issues such as poor timekeeping, untidiness, excessive e-mails and inappropriate dress, managers can ensure they don’t grow to affect teamwork and morale. In most cases, the best first step will be to give some prompt and constructive feedback to the individuals concerned.”

However the survey also reveals that it doesn’t require a lot to brighten the average managers’ day — birthday cake is the top treat, enjoyed by over half (51%) of the managers surveyed, with free teas and coffees coming close second (48%).

The findings also suggest that simple gestures at work can mean a lot, with receiving a ‘thank you’ in return for a favour or job well done meaning the most to UK workers (62%) and team mates who take the time to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ each day also ranking highly.

“When it comes to boosting team morale our survey has shown that the small things can make all the difference. Remembering the basics, like saying thank you or enquiring about a team mate’s weekend, can help to build trust and ultimately result in higher performing, happier teams," Charles Elvin added.

According to the survey, the nightmare colleague:

· Arrives late for meetings (65%)
· Leaves dirty bowls and plates on their desk after lunch (63%)
· Gossips about other workers (60%)
· Discusses confidential work matters openly (54%)
· Sends you an email when they’re sat directly opposite (56%)
· Leaves their mobile phone on loud (42%)
· Takes regular cigarette breaks (39%)
· Comes into work sick when they should have stayed in bed (34%)
· Brings their children into the office (27%)

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