While it’s easy to realise that hard work, motivation and enthusiasm may help get you ahead in the workplace, it’s often harder to identify the many ‘workplace no-nos’ that could severely hinder career progression. Read on to find out about some of the more common things not to do at work!

We all know that positive workplace behaviours and attributes like hard work, motivation, enthusiasm, and a willingness to contribute to company development above and beyond your responsibilities can lead to positive career outcomes such as a promotion or pay rise. But what many of us don’t seem to understand is that there are a host of office no-nos that can have just as big an impact on our careers – but in a negative way!

Inappropriate behaviour in the workplace can lead to stunted career progression; it can stop you getting that all-important pay rise or that much-anticipated promotion! Below is a list of some of the top potentially career-damaging workplace no-nos to avoid:

  • Don’t use profane or offensive language — bad language in the workplace is not only potentially offensive to those around you, it may also make you appear unprofessional, immature and downright rude.
  • Don’t steal — as minor as it might seem to occasionally lighten the office stationary supply of the odd pen or two, stealing from your workplace (stealing anything at all) is one of the quickest ways to get yourself fired and should never be risked, no matter how small the item.
  • Don’t talk negatively about your employer, managers or co-workers — if you have a gripe about your company or somebody in it, take it through the appropriate channels; talk to your manager or human resources department, and if you don’t want to act on it then keep it to yourself. It’s a good idea to avoid venting to co-workers via email also – there’s always the risk you’ll unwittingly commit the ultimate faux pas and send the email to the wrong recipient!
  • Don’t gossip or spread rumours — while it is often tempting to share juicy snippets about co-workers, gossiping can be one of the quickest ways to ruin relationships and create a tense and awkward workplace atmosphere.
  • Don’t make sexually suggestive, racist, or inappropriate comments or jokes — inappropriate jokes or comments are not only potentially offensive, they will certainly not impress management, and could quickly get you labeled as immature and unprofessional.
  • Don’t be seen to be wasting company time — while pretty much every worker is guilty of sending the odd personal email or perhaps having a sneaky browse of the internet from time to time, it should be remembered that many companies monitor internet and email use, and will catch out time-wasting employees. Keep personal emails (and phone calls) to a minimum and try to limit personal use of the internet to your lunchbreak.
  • Don’t get drunk at office parties — as tempting as it might be to let your hair down and partake in a few drinks – especially when it’s paid for by the company – it can be one of the quickest ways to lose face with senior management. While it’s fine to have one or two drinks, workers who have one too many quickly lose the respect of their colleagues and could end up a laughing stock. Wherever possible, try to maintain a distinct line between your social and professional life.
  • Don’t send angry emails — if something or someone at work has upset you give yourself time to reflect and calm down before responding with an email. You’ll probably end up writing something you wish you hadn’t if you respond to a situation when you are angry or upset. A better approach might be to step out of the office for a minute or two and call a loved one and talk your problem out with them first. Then, if you’re still upset, you can hopefully construct a more considered email or talk calmly face-to-face with a manager.
  • Don’t dress inappropriately — whether or not we admit it, we’re all guilty of judging people on their appearance. People who look well groomed and who dress professionally will be taken more seriously, and potentially deemed more competent, than those who don’t. Avoid ill-fitting clothes – particularly clothes that are too small, too tight, or too revealing.
  • Never fall asleep on the job — not only could this be seriously dangerous (depending on your line of work) it also reflects very badly on your work ethic, making you appear lazy or unprofessional. If you find yourself struggling to stay awake grab yourself a strong coffee, do some stretches or have a quick walk around the office.
  • Clean up your act — try to keep your desk and work space tidy and clean; a cluttered, dirty desk can make you appear unprofessional or unproductive. Don’t allow mugs and plates, papers or books to build up. And definitely get rid of yesterday’s half eaten spag bog!
Author's Bio: 

The GradCareers website helps graduates and final-year university students find the right career and graduate program for them. It provides information on a wide range of graduate programs and the companies that offer them. Many of these employers offer work locations in countries around the world, as well as throughout Australia. We recommend that you visit the site at www.gradcareers.com.au and browse the list of employers that offer graduate programs. The graduate programs listed on this site are offered by a broad range of Australia’s top employers. Graduate opportunities with these many companies span a great variety of interesting and exciting industries, fields and jobs. No matter where your interests lie or what degree discipline you have studied there is bound to be an exciting opportunity waiting for you with one of the graduate programs listed on this site. Lucy Ayers is the Editorial Content Coordinator for GradCareers.