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Zip It! Why You Need to Be More Tight-Lipped at Work

Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks

They may not be attending your meetings or brainstorming sessions, but the employees charged with keeping your office running smoothly — janitors, security guards, maintenance workers and receptionists — know a lot more about what's going on at your business than you may think.

More than half of U.S. support staff workers — who also include cleaning staff, mailroom attendants and administrative assistants — have overheard confidential conversations at work, while 11 percent have stumbled upon information that could get someone fired, according to new research from CareerBuilder.

The confidential topic support staff workers, which also include cleaning staff, mailroom attendants and administrative assistants, hear most often are complaints about othersMost often, the confidential conversations involve complaints: Specifically, 62 percent of those surveyed have heard employees voicing their displeasure about their boss or a co-worker.

In addition, 35 percent of those surveyed have overheard discussions about layoffs or someone who may be fired, 22 percent have overheard information about an employee's compensation and 20 percent have eavesdropped on conversations about romantic relationships among employees.

Discussions about employees who have lied to their boss and set their co-workers up to fail are among the other private conversations support staff workers have overheard most. [ ]

But it's not always what workers say, but what they leave behind, that discloses too much. The study found that 10 percent of support staff workers have found something in the trash or lying around the workplace that could get an employee or company in trouble.

Examples include a list of employee salaries, layoff and compensation paperwork, reorganization diagrams and a full set of office keys.

Other times, what's found is much more personal in nature, and while it likely won't get someone fired, it could prove to be awfully embarrassing. The private items support staff workers have come across include pictures of partially dressed co-workers, love letters from one person in the office to another, pregnancy tests and responses to personal dating ads.

The study was based on surveys of 507 full-time U.S. support staff personnel.

Image Credit: Bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock
Chad Brooks
Chad Brooks
Business News Daily Staff
Chad Brooks is a writer and editor with more than 20 years of media of experience. He has been with Business News Daily and for the past decade, having written and edited content focused specifically on small businesses and entrepreneurship. Chad spearheads coverage of small business communication services, including business phone systems, video conferencing services and conference call solutions. His work has appeared on The Huffington Post,,, Live Science, IT Tech News Daily, Tech News Daily, Security News Daily and Laptop Mag. Chad's first book, How to Start a Home-Based App Development Business, was published in 2014.