HUMAN RESOURCES / JUL. 12, 2013
version 3, draft 3

Top 10 Signs of Unprofessional Employees

Every company has one, if not many, unprofessional employees. It’s what makes the world go round, and one of the unfortunate truths that we can’t know about until they are working alongside or under you. These individuals think may or may not be good at their job, however what they all have in common is their undying ability to be unprofessional in the workplace. Whether it is their conduct or how they carry themselves, it is important to spot unprofessional employees and set things right before there are detrimental circumstances to deal with:

Here are the top 10 signs of unprofessional employees:

1. Dress

Tight shirts, plunging blouses and crumpled t-shirts are the standard uniform of unprofessional individuals. They think that coming to work and going to the beach should be easily interchangeable and that is where their fall is. Dressing professionally is an acquired skill - and not everyone has it. So next time you see your colleague/employee walk in with flip-flops on, make sure HR sends out a memo to staff to clarify the dress code.

2. Blame

Playing the blame game is one of the favorites of unprofessional employees. They don’t own up to mistakes, and insist on blaming other people for their shortcomings. “It’s not my fault that I forgot to tell you the memo with the deadline, you should confirm it” is a simple example of how they would get away with being unprofessional. “Sorry” and “My bad” are words that don’t exist in their dictionary because they are so perfect in their eyes.

3. Bully

Bullies coexist with us in the workplace, even after we leave the tormented playground of school. If you feel harassed by a colleague, or bullied by your boss - it is important to take note of this behavior and report it. It isn’t that hard to spot a bully, they are the ones that make people flinch in the room, the ones no one wants to work with or ask about anything. This also can effect how external parties preceive your company culture if you tolerate these type of behaviors.

4. Pranks

Office pranksters are the “clowns of the class” - but there is a fine line between good natured fun and downright unprofessionalism. Do you regularly walk into work and have to watch out for water balloons? Or is your desk covered in thumb tacks on a weekly basis? These types of unprofessional get away with being bullies under the label of “being funny”. Resolve now to deal with this prankster who won’t give up.

5. Gossip

“Did you hear about so-and-so being caught with Mr. X in the elevator?” - A classic opener of a gossip. Unprofessional people think that gossiping about colleagues, employees and management is a norm and acceptable in the workplace. Newsflash - it isn’t! Steer clear of gossips because they turn you into one if you aren’t one already.

6. Bad Manners

Addressing people with respect, integrity and professionalism is one of the basic rules in the workplace. You don’t yell out “Oye!” in the hallway, neither do you push past others to reach the microwave first - it is simply bad manners.

7. Lunch

Taking long lunches and strolling into the office late are classic traits of unprofessional people. They don’t give work priority and think that they can get away with their laid back behavior. While it is okay to do this once in a while, it is important to keep an eye on employees who regularly take advantage of the break.

8. Fake

Many people want to put on a different personality in the workplace - which is, unfortunately, accepted widely. This attitude is not only misleading and annoying, but it can lead to many problems in the running of the department/company. This includes miscommunication and poor decisions by management. Try to project your real personality at work, rather the one you think is acceptable.

9. Stealing

While it may seem trivial at first, stealing in the workplace is an alarming and growing issue. There are many people who think it is completely acceptable to grab someone’s lunch from the communal fridge, or steal stationary to take home for personal use.

10. Poor Communication

The most important, yet the most ignored, sign of unprofessional workers is their poor communication. If a person cannot communicate orders, information or ideas clearly then there is no point of their working in a team. Unprofessional people don’t listen to instructions and usually do whatever they please. 

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