Messy desk can impact career prospects: Survey

Nearly one-third of employers feel messy workers disorganized
||Last Updated: 08/04/2011

Piles of paper, folders and other materials covering a person’s desk could have a negative impact on his career, according to a CareerBuilder survey.

More than one-quarter (29 per cent) of Canadian employers said they are less likely to promote someone who has a disorganized or messy work space, found the survey of 231 hiring managers and 425 workers.

Even if workers are actually working on multiple projects with positive results, workplace clutter can cause employers to view them unfavourably. Nearly two-fifths of employers (39 per cent) said piles of paper covering a desk negatively impacts their perception of that person while 31 per cent feel they are disorganized and 13 per cent say they are just messy.

"Workers are being asked to take on more projects as companies function with leaner staffs, which could be resulting in more cluttered workspaces," said Rosemary Haefner, vice-president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "While chaos on your desk space can indicate a busy workload, it can also imply a lack of organization."

More than one-third (35 per cent) of workers said they tend to be hoarders, roughly balanced between male (32 per cent) and female (38 per cent) workers. While companies have shifted to a more digital workplace, nearly 48 per cent of workers said they still have paper files at their office or desk, found CareerBuilder.

Almost one-third (32 per cent) said between 50 and 100 per cent of their desk surface is covered with work and other materials while 15 per cent of workers said 75 per cent or more of their desk is covered.

More than one-third (36 per cent) of workers said they have paper files from more than one year ago, 14 per cent have files that are five years or older and five per cent have files dating back more than 10 years, found the survey.

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