Britons keep quiet about workplace blunders

Jan 28 2005 by Brian Amble Print This Article

Britons lead the world when it comes to trying to cover up for mistakes they make at work.

A survey of 700 managers across seven countries psychometric assessment firm SHL found that Britons are the least likely to admit to slipping up in their job.

More than seven out of ten (72 per cent) Britons said that their mistakes never come to light because colleagues and managers do not spot their blunders.

The USA comes second, with more than two-thirds (68 per cent) of staff mistakes going unnoticed.

The most common workplace blunders are sending sensitive emails to the wrong person, forgetting deadlines, giving the wrong information, losing company property and – alarmingly – adding or omitting a zero on orders.

The research, which covered the UK, US, Sweden, Australia, Holland, India and Hong Kong, also found significant differences in attitudes towards mistakes from country to country.

Swedish workers claimed that only half their errors never came to light, suggesting that employees and bosses are more likely to confront mistakes

According to SHL's Kevin Kerrigan, the more consensual workplace culture of Scandinavia means that managers are more likely to spot – and deal sympathetically with – errors that Anglo-Saxons would prefer to hide.

"The 'stiff upper lip' syndrome may mean that many British employees don't like to admit that they need extra help, and try to gloss over errors rather than working with management to tackle issues straight on," Kerrigan said.

Last year, research by Consulting group Cap Gemini revealed that Britain’s business leaders admit that a quarter of the decisions they make every years are wrong. It also estimated that each decision was worth £167,267, putting the cost of each year’s mistakes at some £800,000 per person per year.