Learning the unwritten rules of your workplace is crucial to ensuring your long-term job security.
Social behaviours or work habits are not usually typed out in big bold letters in your contract, but if broken, they can damage your reputation, and could eventually get you fired.
Here are nine common mistakes that can lead to dismissal. Are you guilty of any of them?
You like to gossip
If you blow off steam by ranting about a supervisor with your co-workers in the lunchroom, or make jokes about your boss during happy hour at an office event, you’re guilty of this workplace faux-pas.
This kind of behaviour might seem harmless, or you might think that you’re speaking in confidence, but the embers of gossip could ignite and spread across the workplace,, with the smoke eventually rising into the boss’s office. Since spreading rumors is seen as a form of bullying, in that it may be vindictive and ruin someone’s reputation, this is cause for firing.
You are under-qualified for your position
You may have made promises in the interview about how you would perform in the role, but did you misrepresent your skill level?
Perhaps you aren’t working at the rate or quality that is expected; you delay deadlines, submit low-quality work, and haven’t proven the hype you advertised in the interview. Or maybe you don’t actually know how to use the required software program or speak fluent French like you said.
Whatever the case may be, you were hired because you made it clear that you were capable of fulfilling the job’s responsibilities. If you are falling short of your promises, you will also soon be short of a job.
You breach confidentiality
This shortcoming is a sensitive one. Seriously: sharing confidential information about your co-workers, company, or information that is considered a trade secret (such as a company’s financial data, strategic plans etc.) should always be avoided. Discussing your co-worker’s health out of office, letting it slip that your company’s profits are up this quarter, or disclosing a client’s sensitive information is breaching confidentiality, which is grounds for termination.
You complain a lot
You are not shy about sharing your contempt for your salary or what you deserve, even if you only complete your tasks as expected, at bare minimum. When you complain about your job or co-workers in the office, your negative energy hinders your performance, and destroys your motivation that puts more pressure and work on your team.
Think about it: why would your boss want to keep someone that makes their job harder? If you have a genuine concern, or really believe that your hard work and stellar performance merits a higher wage, request a one-on-one meeting with your supervisor and discuss your issues in private.
You are a social (media) butterfly
You take many breaks between working to browse the web. If your position doesn’t involve social media, be wary of sharing posts or chatting online often on your office computer – especially if you have co-workers on multiple social media platforms.
The time stamp on your posts is a clear indicator of how productive your workday was and could be shared with your supervisor. Your boss doesn’t pay you to slack off every day online, and yes, this includes taking long and not-so-inconspicuous bathroom breaks to play Candy Crush in the stall.
You reveal too much online
How you spend your time outside the office is your own business, but if you share ideas, pictures, or posts online that go directly against your company’s values or beliefs, your employer has the right to let you go.
An obvious offence is open slander or sharing sexist, homophobic, or racist posts on social media. This policy also applies to bragging about a raise or complaining about a performance review, as they are considered company secrets and should not be revealed on a public forum.
Now that the Twitterverse has transformed into a valid third-party news source, you should also watch what you retweet, as it can be seen as an endorsement. For example, did you just retweet an incumbent party’s plan of action when you work for the Liberals? That can be seen as a conflict of interest, and will raise the boss’s eyebrows.
As for posting pictures of your weekday all-night rager? Your hangover might affect you in more ways than one at work.
“Courts will generally support dismissals of employees whose off-duty drug or alcohol habits pose legitimate on-the-job safety concerns,” says workplace lawyer Daniel Lublin in The Toronto Star.
Abusing company’s resources/supplies
Using your work computer for occasional personal reasons is usually okay, but try not to take advantage of it. If you are downloading or streaming material that your boss wouldn’t approve of, it’s best to save that for your personal computer.
Also, just because your company has a large storage room with endless amounts of Sharpies, paper, and other neat stationery items, doesn’t mean you can sneak one home without permission – this is considered stealing.
Abusing employee benefits.
If your employer offers goods or services at a discounted price as one of its employee benefits, selling them to your friends or anyone else could get you in trouble.
For example, you get a corporate discount on a gym membership, but probably won’t ever use it, so you think of selling it on Kijiji to make some extra cash. Some employers scan the internet to monitor these kinds of transactions, and a scheme that might have yielded a few extra dollars could cost you your career.
While these practices all put you at risk for dismissal, it’s not difficult to avoid them. Try to see things from your supervisor’s perspective: wouldn’t it bother you if your employee spread rumours about you or spent their time online while they fell behind on deadlines?
Be the kind of employee you’d want to have if you were the boss. With an attitude like that, one day you will be.