Careless Work Conversations Can Cause Big Problems

By Dennis McCafferty
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    53% of support staff workers surveyed said they've overheard confidential conversations at work, and 11% have heard details that could get someone fired.

They field your calls. They deliver your mail. They keep your office warm in the winter and cool in the summer. They even clean out your trash can and the mess in the kitchenette. They are your company's support staff—the receptionists, mailroom clerks, facilities crews and cleaning teams who work hard to make your work life easier and more pleasant. Too often, however, these employees are the unwilling recipients of information that could prove embarrassing—or worse—if it got out, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. Findings reveal that support staffers overhear a wide range of delicate discussions, including those related to pending layoffs and terminations, individual salaries, acts of deception and even romantic flings among co-workers. Beyond conducting confidential discussions behind closed doors, employees and managers need to exercise caution about what they leave behind, because these same staffers reported that they've discovered highly sensitive documents simply lying around the office. We've included samples of overheard conversations and unprotected documents that were confidential in nature. More than 505 U.S. support staff workers took part in the research.

This article was originally published on 2015-03-31
Dennis McCafferty is a freelance writer for Baseline Magazine.
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