10 Unprofessional Work Habits

These 10 unprofessional work habits can be an eye-opener for anyone working in a professional industry but they are probably more helpful for anyone getting their first job or moving into the “corporate world” for the first time.

It can be really difficult to navigate the culture and expectations at any job, especially one where people feel pressured to be so polite they may not tell you about any mistakes you are making.

Especially mistakes regarding professionalism because it can be interpreted as a personal opinion.

So safe yourself the judgmental looks (that you may not even be noticing) and avoid these 10 unprofessional work habits. Or get rid of them if you are guilt of any of these poor work habits. They are holding out back from success!

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1: Gossiping

No one, and I repeat NO ONE, likes the coworker who is constantly gossiping about everyone else. It makes you come across in a negative light to not only your coworkers but also to your supervisors/boss.

If someone starts gossiping to you I find it best to create a reason to leave the conversation asap. Eventually they will get the hint that gossiping is not your thing.

2: Being late and/or leaving early

Timeliness is one of the most important things you can do to show professionalism.

Be on time every day, and if you are worried about those rare, crazy days where you there’s a massive traffic jam and you’re a little late it’s okay. If you are on time 99% of the time then everyone understands it was an extreme circumstance that made you late.

Get yourself an alarm clock as a backup for your phone to make sure you are never late!

Not leaving early is typically more for salaried employees but leaving early every day while everyone else is still working is unprofessional and a quick way to make people question your work performance and work ethic.

It’s pretty common for everyone to leave early on Friday’s so go ahead and join the fun but leaving 2 hours before everyone else on Monday’s for no good reason is super unprofessional.

3: Not hitting deadlines

Deadlines exist for a reason.

Either they are determined by your boss or by a client and either way you need to hit them. Treating deadlines like suggestions rather than rules is incredibly annoying and inconsiderate to your boss and clients. So get your work done on time, and ideally earlier than the day of the deadline! The sooner the better.

Get yourself a planner that is just for work so that you can double check it every day to make sure you are staying on top of deadlines.

4: Pushing the dress code

If you have a uniform then there is really no reason to ever push the dress code, just wear the uniform you are given and keep it tidy.

But, for those of us with dress codes rather than a uniform, there is no need to push it. If your place of work is business professional then wear business professional. There’s no need to try and “get away” with things outside of the dress code.

Not only is pushing the dress code an easy way to have an unpleasant conversation with HR but it also screams unprofessional-ism.

5: Being unrealistic

Being optimistic is great but don’t let it cross the line into being unrealistic.

Don’t oversell things that you won’t be able to achieve. This applies to coworkers, bosses, and clients. This will lead to people being disappointed and viewing you as less competent and capable because it will be viewed as a failure not an over-promised situation.


6: Being on your cell phone

Of course it’s becoming more and more acceptable to communicate through texting with your boss and coworkers. But believe me, people can tell if you are sending a work related communication on your cell phone or if you’re scrolling through Instagram.

Being on your cell phone during work sends off a vibe that you are uninterested in being there and that you don’t have enough work to do! It’s unprofessional and could cause a lot of issues for you in the long run.

If you see this being a problem for you or your team then you could try a “cell phone jail” especially during meetings or crunch times!

7: Over-sharing

You have to learn where to draw the line between friendly conversations about what you made for dinner last night and discussing intimate details in your life.

It’s totally okay to have some non-work related conversations with your coworkers but make sure that you are keeping the topics super appropriate. Not only is it unprofessional to over share about personal things but it also probably makes your coworkers (at least some of them) uncomfortable.

8: Making excuses

Making excuses doesn’t help anyone.

If you feel the need to make an excuse because you can’t complete a task due to lack of tools or resources then don’t be afraid to voice that concern.

But for any other situation- just be honest. Tell your boss or coworkers that you didn’t complete the task and then state your plan to complete it. Making excuses makes you look immature and is very unprofessional.

9: How you handle “social work” events

Social work events are tricky.

Especially if alcohol is provided.

You want to have fun and bond with your coworkers of course! But you also need to know your limits and know yourself. If you know that when you drink anything you get sloppy then stay away from the alcohol. If you don’t want to “look lame” then just slowly nurse 1 (one!) drink all night.

The last thing you want is for everyone in the office to be talking about how rowdy and crazy you got.

Remember- no matter the location or event, if it has coworkers present then you still need to strive for absolute professionalism.

10: Talking too much

One of the quickest ways to get on your coworkers nerves is to not shut up when they are trying to work.

If you aren’t able to pick up on their cues that they are uninterested in the conversation then it’s always better to assume you are talking too much if the conversation is being lead by you. (hint: if you have never felt like someone has wanted you to stop talking you probably don’t have a good radar for it).

Even if you have a very social office you have to remember that you are at work and everyone has deadlines to hit and tasks to complete. So keep your talking to a professional level and let your coworkers get their work done.


Make sure to leave a comment with what you think is the most unprofessional habits at your place of work!



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