The Journal Gazette
Sunday, December 22, 2019 1:00 am

Workers favor idea of fining office offenders

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

If a personal cellphone rings during a meeting, workers should pay – literally; and $3 seems a fitting penalty.

Showing up late for a meeting would result in an even bigger financial hit; $10 for that – if some people had their way.

A majority of Americans – nearly 80% – wouldn't mind seeing their colleagues fined for various office offenses, and the costs could get pretty steep, according to a survey by Savoy Stewart, a firm of commercial property agents and surveyors.

“Working in an office is undoubtedly an interesting experience,” Darren Best, managing director with the London-based firm, said in a news release. “With so many different personalities, it can often feel like a dysfunctional family. Just like in any dysfunctional family, not everyone is going to adhere to the set rules and expected etiquette.”

Savoy Stewart surveyed 1,566 American office workers about workplace offenses. Survey participants were asked which unprofessional actions they would fine colleagues for and what the financial penalty should be. Highlights, including the percentage of workers that would fine and the amount per offense:

• Failure to meet an agreed/set deadline: 79%; $28.

• Unnecessarily being rude/offensive: 72%; $24.

• Not turning up at all to a scheduled meeting: 66%; $20.

• Making/taking multiple personal phone calls during work hours: 64%; $14.

Overall, 65% of office workers think a fair fine system would make employees more accountable for their actions and behavior, Savoy Stewart said.

So what could be done with the financial windfall from all these offenders? Improving the office environment with things such as better furniture, new equipment or technology was the choice of 32% of survey participants. Other responses and the percentage that favored included: donate to charity, 20%; put toward a big work social event, 17%; put in a “birthday/leaving gifts” fund pot, 14%; put toward communal food, snacks, drinks, etc., 12%; award to top performer in the department/company, 5%.

Bonuses on way

Some employers like getting in on the gift-giving season.

More than three-quarters of senior managers polled by the staffing firm Robert Half said their company offers year-end bonuses. Of those respondents, almost all said their organizations plan to either increase the incentives (48%) or keep them the same (48%) this year. Only 4% of executives anticipate reducing the amount given to employees, the firm said in a news release.

In a separate survey of workers, 52% said they expect a bonus this year. Plans for spending the extra money include putting it toward long-term savings (52%), a vacation (47%), holiday shopping and paying off debt (46% each).

Among the 28 U.S. cities in the survey, Dallas, Miami and Houston have the largest number of organizations that offer year-end bonuses.

Nashville, Austin, Denver and Minneapolis have the most managers who said their company plans to increase bonuses this year. Miami, San Diego and Los Angeles have the most workers who expect year-end bonuses.

The online surveys were developed by Robert Half and conducted by independent research firms. They include responses from more than 2,800 senior managers at U.S. companies with 20 or more employees and 2,800 workers 18 or older and employed in office environments in 28 major U.S. cities, the news release said.

“While many organizations are upping the ante on benefits and perks to recruit and retain top talent, money still talks, especially if employers haven't been able to offer salary raises,” Paul McDonald, executive director of Robert Half, said in a statement. “Cash rewards is one way that companies can recognize staff for their hard work over the past year and keep them motivated and loyal for months to come.”

To share a thought, a favorite quote or other wisdom about leadership, email Lisa Green at Lead On also appears online as a blog at

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