Businessman running with briefcase

We spend a lot of time talking about getting jobs, specifically for high school and college grads entering the workforce for the first time. However, there’s much less focus on keeping a job, which is just as important, if not more so. If you’ve snagged a job and you want to stay, here’s a list of things you shouldn’t be doing under any circumstances.

You Do Your Job (And Nothing Else)

Beware of the “it’s not my problem” mentality in the office. It’s easy to get caught up in your day-to-day activities and not consider the people and projects happening around you. Fight these urges at all costs. Even if you feel like a cog in the machine, don’t spend your day acting like it. Take interest in what’s going on outside of your regular work. Be intentional about looking at the big picture of the company.

The worker who’s just there to clock in and clock out can be perceived as replaceable. Put yourself in a position where your skillset is essential for the business.

You Come to Work with Bedhead

Whether we want to admit it or not, how we present ourselves matters in the workplace. That’s not to say that looks are the only thing that matters, but they can certainly hold some weight in your perception at work. If you stroll into the office looking disheveled time and time again, co-workers and, more importantly, your employer could begin to connect that to your work ethic.

That being said, many businesses allow workers to be more casual nowadays, and while that may (or may not) be good for productivity, it means you probably don’t need to wear a three-piece suit every day. Instead, a good first step is being aware of your outfits, the outfits of your co-workers and the outfit of your leader and employer.

When in doubt, dress up, not down. It’s better to be looked at as the best-dressed person in the office, rather than the alternative. If you’re interested in some pointers, check out this useful resource on workplace attire.

You Show Up Late

Punctuality makes a great impression. It shows that you respect others’ time and the projects you’re working on. Showing up late to the office on a regular basis can be perceived as apathy. You may have an excuse for every situation – traffic jams, forgotten computers, sick cats, etc. – but being late all the time can give you a bad reputation.

If you’re prone to tardiness, give yourself extra time to get to work. Leave some buffer room in your day in case things don’t go as planned. Let’s be honest, when do things go according to plan?

You Gossip in the Office

“Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” This quote, often credited to Eleanor Roosevelt, offers some great insights for the workplace. We’re humans – social creatures that want to talk and connect with the people around us. What we discuss during the 9-to-5 day can have an effect on our jobs.

Descending into gossip can damage the work environment in countless ways. Your leaders are sure to take notice of your behavior, which could cause them to distrust you or, worse, begin looking for your replacement.

You’re Being Lazy

If you’re not doing anything at work, people are going to notice. Being a warm body isn’t enough. If you’re having a hard time finding passion for your work, try setting goals for yourself. This doesn’t have to be something big or grand. You can simply set a challenge to be more productive this month than last month. Make a list showing how you’ll execute on your goals.

You could even ask your leader about getting involved in new opportunities at work. Maybe you could attend more leadership meetings, or you could start shadowing people on a different team. Turn your workplace into a place that excites you.

You Don’t Communicate

Communication is key in the workplace, especially when it comes to you and your leaders. If they don’t ever know where you are and what you’re doing, they’ll start to think the worst, even if it’s not true. Being in regular contact with them is the best way to clear up any misconceptions they might have about your work ethic. Not only will this help you gain the respect of your leader, it will also provide opportunities for mentorship.

The same is true for your co-workers. They want to know that you’re pulling your weight, that you’re part of the team. Oftentimes that means you need to talk about your work. Ask them out to lunch to talk shop. Spend time sharing your current projects and learning about what they do. Not only will this provide better communication, it will allow you to grow as a member of your team.

If your leaders aren’t the best communicators, take the bull by the horns and reach out to them. Set up times to talk about your goals, your accomplishments and the struggles you’re seeing at work. Ask for advice and encourage them to get involved. To help get the conversation started, take a look at these helpful tips for talking to leaders at work.

You Say Everything that Comes to Mind

On the other side of the spectrum, there’s such a thing as sharing too much at work. Your every thought doesn’t need to come spilling out of your mouth during the day. Some things are best left unsaid.

This is especially true for heated situations. People are different. You’re going to disagree at times. The way you respond to these situations will affect how you’re perceived at work. Matching a co-worker’s outburst with your own outburst can leave you both looking like unstable hotheads. Instead, show off your mediation skills and learn how to deal with frustrating people in the workplace.

You Go Rogue on Social Media

More and more companies are investing their resources into social media teams, both for the purpose of providing client care and for monitoring what’s happening with their business’ brand. Be very careful about what you say and do on social media because it can easily get back to the company. As a professional in your field, be professional with what you say on the internet. You never know who could be watching.

Also, double check that the content on your social media page is appropriate. You are an employee of your company – a face that people can associate with the brand. Do your due diligence and make sure that all public-facing social profiles are business-appropriate.

You Try to Be a Workplace Casanova

Co-workers spend a lot of time together during the week, which means that the office is ripe for the occasional romance. Before you even think about pursuing someone romantically at work, take some time to learn your company rules.

Even if your leader gives the stamp of approval on office love, be incredibly careful with your actions. Be sure to keep PDA far, far away from the office, and make it a point to be respectful of the feelings of your other co-workers. If things go south in the relationship department, you need to make sure that you don’t carry those feelings back to the office. If you’re looking for love in all the wrong places, check out these 5 tips for dating a co-worker.

You Don’t Listen

Listening is an essential skill in the workplace. Not only does a good listener earn the respect of co-workers, they also have a better understanding of their expectations. Not listening opens the door to all kinds of miscommunication. Spend some extra time working on your listening skills, which will give you a better presence at work. Your leaders want someone who can listen, sift out what’s important and take action.

Using these tips will not only help you keep your job, they’ll make the work environment better for you and for your co-workers. And if you’re interested in getting more business tips from the Zing Blog, subscribe below!

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This Post Has 21 Comments

  1. A company CEO will raise his/her salary while giving the false pretense that interns are special people who may work for free but may one day get a permanent position , then 99% of the time just replaces interns like band-aids as a routine cost saving (less paid employees) strategy.

    Fairness in the workplace starts with making a law like Seattle has that bars company bosses from making over 500 times the salary of its average employee.
    1% need to stop taking advantage of the 99%

  2. I work in a hospital as a social worker. Things get insanely tense sometimes but I am passionate about my work, which I have done for 15 years. I have learned so much from others over the years, but the main thing is respect for others in the workplace. It’s the “there is no job too great nor too small” because it takes everyone to make things work as they need to work to get the job done. You need to be able to put yourself “in someone else’s shoes” to understand their MO. The ability to do this will help you get along better in the long run. No job is perfect and no one is perfect. Even if you think you “know it all” you really don’t! Be a team player and try to learn from others the best you can. Be grateful for your job, even if you plan to move on. Be kind to your coworkers. Maybe they are struggling with something you don’t know about. If you cannot do these things, you probably need to find another job, or profession , that better suits you. ❤️

  3. The first one — You Do Your Job (And Nothing Else) — rings a bell. Our company’s president visited one day to meet us and give a talk. He emphasized the importance of doing your job, and nothing else! If everyone would do that, the company would work like a well-oiled machine. Hmm

    1. What employers often want is a WILLINGNESS for its employees to do that which is not EXPLICITLY stated in their job descriptions. However, a problem can arise when someone is preforming duties that another employee RIGHTFULLY should be doing. Although employees of course at times PURPOSELY allow others to do their work, this is certainly not always the case! Here is an example: Two or so years ago I e-mailed an Excel(R) file to about 80 personnel. Perhaps half of these (about 40 people) desired to print out the file’s only speadsheet. Unfortunately, this was impossible without first “instructing” Excel(R) what to print. The “instruction” was a job that I mistakenly had NOT done (which meant that many, many people had to do it). Fortunately, a coworker pointed out my error, which I have never repeated!

  4. Don’t agree with the dress part. In some places that has merit but not every company values that. Our CEO wears t shirts, ratty jeans and comes to work with wet hair. He is a brilliant man and could care less about my yoga pants and flip flops. If I’m valuable, my appearance is irrelevant.

    1. I think every company culture and even teams within companies are different. It’s just something you kind of figure out along the way.

    2. You must work at a very small company to be in contact with the CEO everyday. Even if the CEO doesn’t dress up, believe me yoga pants and flip flops don’t inspire confidence from if you are leading others.

      1. Were I work everyone dresses how they want. We wear flip flops and shorts in the summer and hoodies and jeans in the winter.

    3. Always dress for the job you want, not the job you have. People judge you based on this and I recommend that slightly over dressing instead of under dressing for work. This may seem unfair, but unfortunately your peers and your boss judge you based on perception first and your work second.

      1. Hi Curtis:

        If you’re working in the right environment, hopefully in the last part of that comment isn’t true. However, I will say that it never hurts to have a good first impression.

        Thanks,
        Kevin Graham

      2. Even though dressing up and dressing well is good, I have still noticed some people who have dressed well and gone beyond with being sincere and of goodwill, yet at worst still gotten passed over or even terminated even after all good behavior? How come such injustice and false hope as this and how to tackle?

    4. I think the important part of that section was to pay attention to how your coworkers and boss dress and think about the message you’re sending. Obviously what’s appropriate depends very much on the work environment, and in some places casual is fine. In one job I had I deliberately dressed down because I wanted to stay in a technical job, so I dressed the part instead of dressing up, which might make people think I wanted to move into management. The point is to be thoughtful about the message you’re sending with your clothing choices.

  5. Ask for a development plan. What can you do to increase your value in the office. Learn another department in case they need help.

  6. Ask questions. Show you’re interested in the company and what it does. Got somebody used to being a temp worker right now in a position that I see won’t last for this reason. Long term they won’t be able to do their job well because they haven’t bothered to learn about our industry or how our company operates.

    1. What can be done of most pressing and unjust dilemma when a volunteer, intern, employee never commits any of the behaviors above while always trying to be his/her best, dressing the part, trying hard and still encountering obstacles of not getting the job or a promotion?

      Doesn’t feel good when hearing such to do hard work and good behavior yet nothing happening?

      Thanks.

    2. Asking questions at the right time can be valuable. When I first started working at a construction company that built roads and runways, one of the engineers took me out to the jobsite and told me what everything was. He explained what we were doing. It had nothing to do with my duties, but it helped me understand what I was doing.

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