The chattiest employees in the workplace are named Kathy, Beth, Kyle and Sam, according to Preply.
The e-learning platform surveyed 1,003 Americans aged 18 to 76 in February, asking in part the names of their most talkative co-workers. The researchers then tried to level the playing field by removing any names that were among the top 10 most popular names from 1960 to 2000 based on information from the Social Security Administration.
As humorous as the resulting list of four names may be, the poll’s other findings point to more serious matters about unwanted conversations in the workplace. Excessively talkative workers — not just ones named Kathy, Beth, Kyle and Sam — could be negatively affecting your business.
Almost all (95%) of the survey respondents (50% of participants were women, 48% were men and 2% were nonbinary) said they have a co-worker who talks too much, and 64% said they have had a too-talkative boss. And the most talkative people can be found in the healthcare field, according to respondents.
There is a time and a place for chatting at work, survey-takers said.
The worst time for someone to try to strike up a conversation, they said, is when someone is trying to wrap up work and go home (40%) or in the middle of the work day (38%). Even break time, according to 10% of respondents, is a bad time to try to have a discussion. The best place for uninvited conversations, the research suggests, is in the restroom, which only 3% of respondents found to be a bad place to run into a talkative colleague.
The topics that workers find annoying might surprise you. Company gossip was deemed the worst by poll participants, with 26% finding it annoying. Politics (22%) came in second. Even talk about children was found to be annoying by 10% of respondents. The safest topics to talk about, on the other hand, appear to be the weather and pets — only 2% found either topic to be annoying.
But it’s the business ramifications that might concern you the most.
Sixty-two percent of respondents said they don’t enjoy working with chatty co-workers, and 71% said that too-talkative employees are bad for the work environment. Beyond annoying, 71% of participants said that all of the talking prevents them from doing their work, and 36% said that a chatty co-worker has affected their work performance.
Of those who said that a talkative co-worker has affected their workload, 26% said that they had to work longer hours, 24% said that they had to do some or all of the chatty employee’s work, and 22% said that they had to work late due to the person.
No doubt those results are not music to the ears of leaders in an industry where recruiting and retaining workers already is a challenge.
It may be a balancing act to build camaraderie while being sensitive to workers’ needs, likes and dislikes, but it’s a job that employers will need to address to be successful.
Lois A. Bowers is the editor of McKnight’s Senior Living. Read her other columns here.