HR managers wield the biggest stick

Aug 06 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Workers' attitudes to misdemeanours in the office vary considerably depending on their job role and where they are in the UK, according to a new survey, with HR professionals emerging as the strictest disciplinarians.

A survey of 1300 company owners, managers and employees by Microsoft bCentral has tried to rate how "sackable" they regard various office misdemeanours.

The respondents were asked to rate a variety of office misdemeanours on a scale from zero per cent ('no problem at all') to 100 per cent (Ďa sackable offence').

Given that the survey was carried out by Microsoft, there are no prizes for guessing that it found that workers who are discovered installing unlicensed software are more likely to get the sack than those caught exaggerating their expenses, throwing a sickie or turning up to work with a hangover.

Installing unlicensed or pirated software was rated at 81 per cent, three per cent more sackable than exaggerating expenses. But HR professionals disagreed, placing fiddling expenses way higher, at 94 per cent.

Using the phone to make international personal calls rated at 68 per cent, throwing a sickie 62 per cent, using the franking machine to send personal letters 59 per cent, turning up for work with a hangover a party-pooping 52 per cent and falling asleep in the toilet (honestly) rated at 51 per cent.

Once again, HR professionals took a considerably dimmer view of all these offences, with the exception of misusing the franking machine. Overall, HR takes the hardest line on office misdemeanours, emerging with the highest collective average sacking rating of 74 per cent.

Conversely, business owners and managers regard office misdemeanours generally less seriously, than their junior staff. Directors for example, gave an overall 'sacking' rating lower than other non-managerial employees (64 per cent vs 69 per cent).

Curiously, the legal profession emerged as the most lenient group of workers, awarding the lowest sacking rating of only 58 per cent.

Workers in finance take a middle-ground position on breaking rules in the office, but ironically, they regard 'exaggerating your expenses' less seriously than workers in any other sector.

Equally striking are the regional variations in attitudes. Londoners have the most laissez-fair attitudes, with an average rating of 59 per cent, more than ten per cent lower than Northern Ireland (70 per cent) and Wales (68 per cent).

So the message seems to be that rascals who want to misbehave themselves at work should look for a job in a London legal firm . . .