With just one-third of unemployed job seekers feeling certain they could find a job matched to their experience and compensation (according to the Glassdoor.com Quarterly Employment Confidence Survey), it makes sense to think carefully about whether we’re treading on thin ice at work. Certain actions will keep you employed, like meeting performance goals and staying up-to-date with your boss’s needs, while others will do just the opposite.
Here are a few actions to avoid if you want to stay out of the unemployment line:
The Flame-O-Gram E-mail: We all get those e-mails where you want to fire back a response in the seconds after it hits your inbox. But responding to an e-mail moments after it comes in, when you’re heated from its contents, can come back to haunt you later. Take a moment to slow down, think about who you’re responding to and how you want your response to sound. If your flame-o-gram e-mail gets passed to the wrong person, you could find yourself in the boss’ office with HR waiting. Better to sleep on it, let the emotions die, and respond tomorrow in person or on the phone.
Using Your Hands: It’s sad in some ways, but placing a hand on your colleague’s shoulder or arm to make a point is yesterday’s management technique. As natural as it feels, even a well-meaning touch is a high-risk move in today’s workplace. Keep your hands to yourself with both sexes, and find another way to show your sensitivity and emotions.
The Little White Lie: We‘ve all told them: “I sent them an e-mail this morning,” or “I called them back and left a voicemail,” or “I’m not feeling well and won’t be in today.” But the little white lie can backfire and become something big, especially with social networks broadcasting our every move. Another problem with telling the little lie is that once you get away with it, it becomes easier and easier to use them going forward. The pattern will become obvious and catch up with you.
The E-mail Joke: It looked innocent at the time, but when you find yourself fired for using poor judgment by passing along a joke that offended a member of your team, you’ll feel differently. Work can be fun, but fun at work isn’t about e-mail chain jokes or links to sites. If you need to pass something along, send it to friends you don’t work with and think about whether you should be using the company computer to do so. The IT manager at your company might not think the joke, chain e-mail, or questionable picture is funny either.
Padding an Expense Report: We recently saw high-profile CEO Mark Hurd, former head of Hewlett-Packard, lose his job in part because of an improperly prepared expense report. While that’s not the entire story, the expense report infraction was the technicality that brought him down. If the extra bottle of wine at dinner was over the expense policy, don’t try and hide it in the expense report, just pay it out of your own pocket. If you have to upgrade, put it on your personal card. If you weren’t supposed to be entertaining someone, then don’t try and make it all your own meal. Trying to hide or pad expense reports is sure to bring you down.
Bad-Mouthing the Boss: The world is too small and too many people would like to have your job, so think twice before you say disparaging things about the boss. If you need to talk it out, call your best friend outside of work and let them hear you out. What goes around comes around, and in this economy, losing the confidence and trust of your boss can be fatal. Don’t let one small, seemingly innocent action lead you to a pink slip. You don’t want to look back on your time with your current employer with regret because of something that could have been easily avoided.
Rusty Rueff, director and career expert for jobs and career website Glassdoor.com has been a CEO, led HR in global companies and is co-author of Talent Force: A New Manifesto for the Human Side of Business.