The latest thinking, news and events from the world of Recruitment

New Research Reveals what Counts as Rudeness in the Workplace


A staggering 72% of employees would act if they had a colleague with poor personal hygiene, new research by UK science and technology recruitment specialists, Hyper Recruitment Solutions (HRS) has today revealed.

The research further details how 36% of employees are willing to tell the person directly, whilst a further 36% would flag the issue with others including HR and management to handle the problem on their behalf. Out of those willing to address the topic directly, men (78%) are more likely than women (68%) to voice their concerns to/about a colleague.

This straight-talking approach is carried over into issues such as colleagues not getting along, with results revealing over a third(36%) would directly tell a colleague they don’t like them, with men (43%) more likely than women (24%) to confront a colleague.

Apprentice winner Ricky Martin, who founded the recruitment firm HRS after winning the show in 2012, was keen to unearth what causes workplace rudeness to highlight what is and isn’t deemed acceptable.

Ricky said: 

“Workplace disputes and personality clashes are nothing new. What the results show is how direct people are when handling often sensitive issues. I’d always advise that taking an open and honest approach with colleagues will work better in the long-term, but it’s important colleagues are mindful not to unintentionally offend or create further issues in doing so.”

A shocking 81% of employees cite small talk with colleagues as irritating, particularly when it involves football or children, with the survey going on to show the most irritating small talk topics to discuss at work include:

  • Trash talking colleagues/clients (36%)
  • Forced pleasantries (e.g. Happy New Year/How are you?) (29%)
  • How was your evening/weekend? (23%)
  • The weather (17%)

The research also uncovered that 94% of employees find physical contact in the workplace acceptable, from a fist pump (32%), to almost a fifth (17%) citing a kiss on the cheek as fine. A further 52% think a pat on the shoulder is acceptable, in addition to high-fives (39%) and hugs (35%).

Mr Martin continued:

“The results are pretty surprising. We often hear and read in the media how physical contact at work isn’t acceptable, yet the results suggest otherwise. Of course, physical contact isn’t always appropriate or well received so I’d advise it’s essential to be aware of factors such as personality, religion and culture. As what might be regarded as friendly in one culture may be deemed as deeply offensive in another! However, as the results suggest should the relationship be there and requited, it shouldn’t be frowned upon for colleagues to hug, high-five or give one another a pat on the back!”

When it comes to workplace rudeness, just under half of Brits (49%) admitted to avoiding making themselves a cup of tea or coffee at work so they don’t have to make one for colleagues. Showing that while employees are direct on some issues, they’d rather avoid the situation completely than feel obliged to make a brew for others.

Top situations cited as work place rudeness included:

  • Being sworn at (54%)
  • Being reprimanded in front of your peers (48%)
  • Speaking over someone in a meeting (44%)
  • A personal remark about your choice of outfit (42%)

The research further unveiled that 92% of employees claim to have never been accused of workplace rudeness, despite 78%advising they’ve been on the receiving end. Amongst those who have been accused of rudeness by colleagues (8%), a common reason they gave was due to their personal communication style, mostly frequently swearing and directness.


During Nathan’s early career, he gained considerable experience from across many industries including Sales, Teaching and Retail, however more recently Nathan has delved into the world Digital Marketing and Publishing. Drawing on his past experiences, Nathan brings all aspects of his knowledge into Recruitment Buzz, possessing great research and social media skills.

Born and bred in Wales, Nathan is as Welsh as they come – living in the heart of the Valleys, Nathan proudly takes place as our resident Welsh speaker. However, Nathan’s knowledge of global understanding exceeds the Welsh borders, having lived in London, parts of the US and Ecuador.

Nathan is a self-proclaimed geek, having gained a degree in Natural Science via the Open University in Wales. In addition to his passion for science, he has a love for technology, nature, art and of course football!


Related Articles