How to keep that new job

David Merrill and Anthony Capps And

Some people just don’t have enough time to catch their morning TV program before work, so some of them catch up on their office computers.

An MSN-Zugby survey found that, for one in five U.S. office employees, this scenario is a reality.

However, that’s not all Americans are doing in the office.

Spreading the word

More than half of U.S. employees spend time at work spreading office gossip, according to the survey, with the most common offenders being males aged 18-29. Two out of every three workers in that demographic have admitted to contributing to office gossip while on the clock.

There is a fine line drawn between spreading office gossip and sharing news.

“Talking is one thing, starting to get malicious is another,” said Don Wyatt, program coordinator for Business Career Services. “When someone ends up getting hurt then it is very serious.”

Wyatt said it is not professional to keep gossip going, and it is best for employees to report any damaging gossip.

Horsing around

While working at a Mexican grill, Nick Testa, junior in finance, found a way to lighten the mood with his co-workers in the kitchen of the restaurant.

“I was slicing tomatoes, and the guy that was handing me the tomatoes decided to throw one at the guy who was stirring the beans. The guy who was stirring the beans swung at the tomato with his stirrer, making contact and splattering the tomato, and tomato baseball was born,” Testa said. “The goal was to land them in the sink because that was a home run.”

Testa said his boss was always suspicious whenever he noticed the tomato seeds on the walls.

Not everyone has been able to get away with such activity.

Mike Smith, freshman in liberal arts and sciences-open option, who has worked at a local Hy-Vee during summer months, recalled a co-worker getting fired for vandalizing a cereal box.

“I had a friend that wrote an inappropriate message on a cereal box. A customer ended up buying the box and reported it to the store. They were able to find out he did it, and he was fired for it,” Smith said.

Cleaning house

Nearly half of all workers take care of business other than what they are in the office for.

The survey found 20 percent of workers have answered a non-business-related cell-phone call during a business meeting or conference. It was found to be especially common with workers who have children ages 17 and younger.

“The rule at Iowa State is you never use state equipment or time for personal use,” Wyatt said. “If you’re going to be paying bills, etc., it is for lunchtime.”

Wyatt said, although people don’t adhere to the letter of the rules, it is more appropriate to handle personal business on a personal cell phone.

“It is usually younger employees who may not be as busy as they should and not told the rules,” he said.

Harassment and relationships

There are many instances where a co-worker is attracted to another co-worker. The problem comes when the attraction doesn’t go both ways.

This problem is one of the most widely kept secrets of the office world and is often not reported.

It’s simply solved – if someone says no, he or she probably means it.

“Relationships [in the workplace] don’t work,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said a relationship not working out can lead to awkward consequences.

“It’s probably not the most comfortable situation to work with someone you just had a nasty breakup with,” he said “You watch shows like ‘The Office’ and watch stuff like that happen, but it doesn’t work. Keep it professional or out of the workplace.”

Resolving incompatibilities

If people don’t like you, they may find a way to get you fired.

“Someone told me one time ‘I won’t be inviting that person out tonight,’ and they won’t be inviting me,” Wyatt said.

He said the best way to avoid someone you don’t get along with is to avoid the person, and interaction with them, only when necessary.

“Keep your distance, but do keep it professional,” he said.

While several have guilty pleasures they indulge in on the job, avoiding or limiting the habits just might save yours.