Here’s a pretty simple equation:

[(frustrated employee x office pet peeven) x everyone in your organization] = hundreds of billions in lost $$ due to lack of productivity

Yes, you read that right. Hundreds. Of. Billions. According to a study on workplace engagement in the U.S, disengaged employees cost organizations around $450-550 billion each year.

But first, let’s back up. How do we even get to that tipping point?

Workplace pet peeves decrease productivity and affect company performance

Pet peeves are really just minor, often temporary, annoyances. They can be as inconsequential as the smelly food your colleague microwaves in the communal kitchen or as disastrous as malfunctioning hardware. But when added up, these little adversities become colossal disturbances that not only completely derail your day, but can also have major consequences for your company. 

Workplace pet peeves are particularly problematic for several reasons. These office offenders can seriously hamper your productivity and workflow, and on top of that, it’s much harder to approach a colleague about a bothersome trait (think, talking loudly on the phone or scrolling through social media during a meeting) than it would be to, say, your partner or family member. Where does this leave you? Distracted, uncomfortable, and suffering in silence.

American workers have some beef

Zety recently performed a study on US office employees, polling 1,026 Americans about everything that drives them mad at work. After curating a list of 120+ irritating office situations, then narrowing down the 28 worst ones, and finally, adding a “tilt factor” to account for reported frequency, researchers identified the top 10 pet peeves that make American workers’ blood boil. They are:

  • Coming to work sick
  • Malfunctioning hardware or slow computer
  • Arriving late or leaving early
  • Not washing hands before leaving the bathroom
  • Meetings that could be an email
  • Printer out of paper, jammed, or broken
  • Cell phone conversations in a shared room
  • Slow WiFi
  • Texting/browsing social media during work hours
  • Too many meetings

Bottom line: you’re unlikely to perform well at work if you catch someone else’s infection (the uncertainty of the Coronavirus making matters even worse), and when team members fail to deliver their work, technology lets you down or your time gets wasted, your job performance can become compromised. The list goes on.

Not all hope is lost

Here’s some good news. Workers are on the front line of tackling tasks and projects and will be the first to tell you what’s inhibiting their productivity. If managers listen carefully, they’ll have the valuable information to create a more efficient work environment. 

Another common communication gap that can undermine productivity is not having a clear channel to receive information from the bottom up. When a problem arises, there should be a stated protocol for notifying management to make resolution painless, efficient, and beneficial to everyone. Then workers can freely return to completing tasks and other more important things.

One powerful tool helping teams overcome common workplace challenges is The software platform’s proprietary AI (aka AliceAi™) combines 360° feedback (self, peer, and manager) with performance metrics and work pattern analysis to develop a strategy and cadence for daily check-ins with each team member. Alice synthesizes insights from all these thousands of data points (including your daily feedback) to proactively solve weaknesses and build fundamentals that boost morale.

And because positive habits don’t just grow on trees, Alice gives you the chance to influence your work experience every day by asking you a few fun and friendly questions. These daily Reflections can cover everything from your feelings about work processes and tasks, to your team’s general vibe… and which kind of Surprises you love! So long, disgruntled employee soup. Hello, five-star office experience. 

At the end of the day, a little forgiveness goes a long way

Chances are, one of these (all of these) pet peeves resonates with you (drives you up the wall). Why wouldn’t it? You’re only human! And while there are many helpful ways to combat distractions and inconveniences, there’s also some sensibility in remembering that your team members are all human beings too. 

The coworker who talks over you in a meeting, the officemate constantly turning down the AC, and the colleague who always pours the last cup of coffee in your favorite mug all likely have their own personal frustrations too and deserve a little slack. Take care of the things you can control. And the rest? Just like “your” coffee mug says: Keep calm, and carry on.

Liv Huntley is a Content Writer at Born in the Midwest, raised on NFL and Miles Davis, and lives on Google Drive. A serious journalist, a not-so-serious copywriter, and a social psychology nerd, she formerly wrote for a women’s magazine and always enjoys a bit of storytelling tomfoolery. You can catch her skiing in the winter and chasing cold climates year-round.