Aw, shucks! Swearing at work can harm your career prospects

CHICAGO, ILL.
July 24, 2012 9:00pm
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•  Nearly two out of three bosses think less of the cussers

•  And the Number One city for swearing is….


Employees who make frequent contributions to the swear jar may lose more than loose change -- they may lose out on a promotion, according to a new survey paid for by the online jobs site CareerBuilder.com.

In the survey, 64 percent of employers say that they’d think less of an employee who repeatedly uses curse words, and 57 percent say they’d be less likely to promote someone who swears in the office.

Half (51 percent) of workers say that they swear in the office. The majority of those (95 percent) say they do so in front of their co-workers, while 51 percent cuss in front of the boss. Workers are the least likely to use expletives in front of senior leaders (13 percent) and their clients (7 percent).

Comparing genders, men are more likely to report swearing at work – 54 percent compared to 47 percent of women.

Employers are inclined to think less of an employee who swears at work for a variety of reasons. Most (81 percent) believe that the use of curse words brings the employee’s professionalism into question. Others are concerned with the lack of control (71 percent) and lack of maturity (68 percent) demonstrated by swearing at work, while 54 percent say swearing at work makes an employee appear less intelligent.

While many employers may think less of an employee who curses too much in the office, one in four employers (25 percent) admitted to swearing at their employees. Roughly the same amount (28 percent) of workers said they have sworn at other co-workers.

Among top markets in the U.S., workers in the nation’s capital were the most likely to report that they swear at work, with Denver and Chicago rounding out the top three.

Washington D.C. – 62 percent

Denver – 60 percent

Chicago – 58 percent

Los Angeles – 56 percent

Boston – 56 percent

Atlanta – 54 percent

Minneapolis – 50 percent

Phoenix – 47 percent

New York – 46 percent

Philadelphia – 44 percent

Comparing age groups, younger employees were the least likely to swear at work, while employees ages 35-44 are the most likely to curse while on the job.

Employees ages 18-24 – 42 percent say they swear at work

Employees ages 25-34 – 51 percent say they swear at work

Employees ages 35-44 – 58 percent say they swear at work

Employees ages 45-54 – 51 percent say they swear at work

Employees ages 55 and over – 44 percent say they swear at work

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive and paid for by CareerBuilder among 2,298 U.S. hiring managers and human resource professionals and 3,892 U.S. workers (employed full-time, not self-employed, non-government) ages 18 and over between May 14 and June 4.

Percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions. With pure probability samples of 2,298 and 3,892, one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/-2.04 and +/-1.57 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.


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