A majority of support staff workers have heard confidential conversations in the workplace, while 11 percent have stumbled upon information that could cause someone to be fired.
One of the most addictive and soapiest aspects to “Downton Abbey” is that there is hardly any conversation between the upstairs folk that is not invariably overheard by the family’s support staff. Not so different from real life, according to a recent CareerBuilder.com survey that finds company support staffers may know more about you than you realize.
The national survey conducted on behalf of CareerBuilder comprises more than 500 support staff employees who classify themselves as custodians, janitors, mailroom attendants, security guards, receptionists, facilities maintenance workers, housekeepers, administrative assistants, or maintenance workers.
A majority of support staff workers (53 percent) report overhearing confidential conversations in the workplace, while 11 percent have stumbled upon information that could cause someone to be fired.
What are the hot topics overheard by support staff?:
- Complaints about the boss or other workers (62 percent)
- Layoffs or someone being fired (35 percent)
- Conversations about salary (22 percent)
- Romantic relationships (real or alleged) between co-workers (20 percent)
- Lying to the boss (18 percent)
- Setting up another co-worker to fail (11 percent)
But even in an office where workers are discreet, support staff often stumbles upon intriguing bits of information meant to be confidential. Some are common, and some are very curious.
- Evidence that workers are engaging in NSFW activities during the off-hours
- A list of employee salaries
- Pictures of a co-worker in various states of undress
- Layoff and compensation paperwork
- Upcoming reorganization diagram
- An old love letter from one office worker to another
- A predetermination request for breast augmentation
- An unflattering short story about the boss and several co-workers
- A pregnancy test
- An employee’s response to a personal dating ad
- A resume left on the copier
- A letter from the boss’ mistress
- The boss’ ex-wife’s bank account statement
- An employee’s tax return
- A diamond ring
- A passport
- A full key set for the facility.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.