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Top office pet peeves

Scantily clad folks stealing lunch from the fridge while their cellphones bleat annoying ringtones are, surprisingly, not popular in the workplace

By Todd Humber

So what annoys you in the workplace?

Turns out the answer has a lot to do with the country you’re living in, according to a survey from LinkedIn. The professional networking website surveyed 17,000 professionals in 16 countries, including Canada.

Globally, there was a pretty strong consensus on the number one pet peeve. Nearly eight in 10 (78 per cent) said it was “people not taking ownership for their actions.”

But there were some fascinating regional differences. Americans get more irritated than other nations about co-workers swiping other people’s food from the fridge — though, I can’t imagine many people wouldn’t be annoyed if they discovered some scofflaw had swiped their lunch.

Brazilians are the most annoyed by excessive gossiping, Germans are neat-freaks that can’t stand dirty common areas, Indians don’t tolerate annoying cellphone ringtones and the Japanese don’t have much of a funny bone — steer clear of office pranks in the land of the rising sun.

Overall, workers in India had the most pet peeves, while Italy was the most laid back. Canada is a bit on the high strung side, ranking fifth out of 16 countries in terms of things that bug us at work.

But where you live isn’t the only thing that dictates pet peeves — gender also plays a role. Canadian women were far more likely (58 per cent) to be annoyed by “clothing that’s too revealing for the workplace” than their male counterparts (26 per cent.) Men and women who like to show up to work scantily clad might want to start looking for jobs in Sweden — they’re the most tolerant of what others wear on the job.

Interestingly, the study also highlighted a pet peeve difference between hiring managers and non-hiring managers — hiring managers in Canada are more likely to be annoyed by people who show up late for meetings.

As for the list of things that really bug me in the workplace, well… um. Wait a minute. Someone’s phone is bleating a MIDI version of the Hawaii 5-0 theme song. Lost my train of thought, I’ll just go shut my door. Much better. As I was saying, what really annoys me is… wait a minute. Wasn’t that my lunch container that guy was holding when he walked by my office? Gotta run…

Todd Humber is the managing editor of Canadian HR Reporter. He can be reached at

Todd Humber

Todd Humber is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Canadian HR Reporter, the national journal of human resource management. Follow him on Twitter @ToddHumber
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