Friday, August 7, 2009

16 Ways to Keep Your Job

Even with the end of the recession in sight -- yes, I'm an optimist -- keeping your job not only entails going above and beyond for your employer, but it also means applying some common sense office etiquette. Here's a list of 16 easy ways to keep your job and avoid a layoff. I'm sure there are dozens more, but it's a start! Some of these seem so obviously simple; however, I have personally experienced one or more individuals "performing" these blunders over the course of my career. How about you?

1. Don't go barefoot
Everybody wants to wear really cute shoes, and they go out and get five-inch tall Christian Louboutin shoes. If you cannot walk in them, you should really go for a more sensible shoe.
Resorting to kicking off your stilettos under the desk is permissible at the end of a long day, but walking around the office barefoot is really gross.

2. Don’t have a loud ring tone
Keep your phone on vibrate. Your co-workers notice your ring tone -- especially if it's particularly loud and annoying. And, it alerts them to the possibility that you're slacking off and taking personal calls while you should be working -- not smart. If you are the person who has the stupid cell phone ring, everyone has noticed it already. Turn it down.

3. Keep personalization at minimal
If your desk is cluttered with personal items, rethink this. The office is a place to work. It is not your home. Although most employers encourage some personalization of "your space", bringing in knickknacks, toys, picture frames, coffee mugs, stuffed animals, personal refrigerator, skateboard, etc. is overkill. If you can't fit all your personal items in one small box, you've got too much stuff at work.

4. Keep your clothes on!
Breaking news: there are security cameras everywhere, catching every move you make. And they don't turn a blind eye to tightie whities. Changing your clothes in the parking garage, getting "jiggy" in the parking lot, or the bathroom, or the conference table is, as if this has to be said, Not Appropriate! And *nobody* wants to see it.

5. Don’t play loud music
Headphones, people. There is no faster way to top "cube rube" status than to crank your music. You may think that you are all by your lonesome in your cube, but don't forget about your proximity to others. And if the spirit moves you, and you must have a bit of your motherland's music to get you through your day, headphones, people. Headphones.

6. And, please - Don't sing!
Headset or no headset, the sound of your singing will probably irritate a few of your co-workers, especially if you haven't been selected as the winner of American Idol.

7. Don’t conduct business on the toilet!
Or at least wait until the conference call is over to flush. Enough said?

8. Don’t be the office downer
You don't want to be such a buzz kill that people arrange their desks away from you. In an already stressful time, the last thing others want to be around everyday is someone always telling depressing stories and displaying a negative attitude. Having worked in an environment with one of "those" people, it was actually a relief for co-workers when this woman was laid off.

9. Don't microwave fish in the office
Tuna sandwiches are banned from some offices, but fish dishes in the microwave are absolutely off limits. The smell waft through the office gently at first, and then you would feel it more pungently. You don't want your cube mates wishing you would sleep with the fishes.

10. Don’t get x-rated!
I've encountered many breaches of office etiquette, but the worst was when a new employee sent an Evite to the team asking us to the opening of an adult bookstore. That pretty much took the cake. Everyone was stunned. There's a reason for the saying, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." Keep your personal life, well...personal!

11. Don’t be the boss’ new best friend
People who are worried about being laid off end up going overboard to prove that they are indispensable, and that ends up making them seem so obnoxious to people. Positioning yourself as the boss' right arm can backfire. Instead of becoming the main man's right-hand, you may just annoy the entire office. Co-workers won't have much use for you, and managers see right through these tricks. Being a team player, will serve you, and your organization much better.

12. Don’t read your emails out loud
Keep a lid on it, neighbor. Haven't we all had a coworker who reads her emails out loud... And listens to her voicemails on speakerphone. Seriously, don't you know that's annoying?

13. Don’t post racy pictures on social networks
You know you aren't employable if you have Facebook pictures of yourself doing keg stands. Everyone's life is so public now, via Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, you have to be very careful. That is a very easy way to make a very stupid mistake that prohibits you from growing professionally.

14. Don’t do personal grooming at work
From clipping your nails at your desk, to plucking stray hairs -- eyebrows, nose hair, ear hair. Please! Do your personal grooming at home. Getting rid of a hang nail would be fine, but it is another thing if they are giving themselves a complete manicure.

15. Don’t harass other employees
There was once reported an incident where one employee was taking a picture of another of another employee in the bathroom. The prankster lifted a camera phone over the stall door, snapped a shot and then emailed the photo around the office. It got all the way back around to the subject. Who was nonplussed. To say the least. And the prankster had a lot of explaining to do.

16. Don’t steal food
Keep your mitts off other people's lunches. Basically if you didn't purchase it or cook it - don't eat it without permission. The most bizarre thing encountered regarding this subject (so far) was a co-worker who had brought in half of a left over sub sandwich. This half of the sandwich had been untouched - by her. When the woman went to get her lunch from the office refrigerator, she found someone had opened up the packaging, taken a bite and then returned her sub to the refrigerator. Yuck!

Bottom line, use common courtesy and employ the golden rule - Do unto others as they would do unto you! This may just help keep you off the unemployment line.

About Maureen McHale:

Maureen McHale is a Central Florida resident with over 13 years of traditional and internet marketing, public relations and business development experience. Having been employed in various industries from travel to high tech to solar energy her ability to translate her knowledge and skills into various environments makes Maureen McHale a highly successful marketing professional. For more information visit her LinkedIn profile at


Performance Improvement said...

Hi Maureen

You seem to have worked with some very feral people based on your rules. I hope you have better luck in the future.

The best, Kenneth

Rob said...

Found myself laughing. Some good advice in this post.

Mat said...

How about the employee who won't stop talking about themselves, or their family, as if they're the best thing's since sliced bread. Yeesh--

Carmel said...

I enjoyed your list. It's sad, but I've worked with a few of those people in the past. Thanks for sharing.