Being Perceived as a Hoarder May Cost Workers a Promotion, Finds New CareerBuilder Survey
--Career expert offers tips to de-clutter your workspace and career--
PR Newswire

TORONTO, Aug. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Do you have piles of paper, folders, tchotchkes and other materials covering your desk? A new study shows hoarding can result in a negative impact on your career. Nearly three-in-ten (29 per cent) employers say they are less likely to promote someone who has a disorganized or messy work space. This national survey was conducted between May 19 and June 8, 2011 among more than 230 hiring managers and more than 420 workers.

More than one third (35 per cent) of workers say they tend to be hoarders (roughly balanced between male (32 per cent) and female (38 per cent) workers). While companies have shifted to a more digital workplace, nearly half (48 per cent) of workers say they still have paper files in their office/desk.

  • 32 per cent say that, currently, between 50 to 100 per cent of their desk surface is covered with work and other materials, while 15 per cent of workers said 75 per cent or more of their desk is covered.
  • 36 per cent of workers say they have paper files from more than a year ago, 14 per cent have files that are five years or older and five per cent have files dating back more than 10 years.

Even if workers are actually working on multiple projects with positive results, workplace clutter is causing employers to have a negative view of them. Nearly two-in-five employers (39 per cent) say piles of paper covering a desk negatively impacted their perception of that person; 31 per cent feel they are disorganized, while 13 per cent say they are just messy.

"Workers are being asked to take on more projects as companies function with leaner staffs, which could be resulting in more cluttered workspaces," said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. "While chaos on your desk space can indicate a busy workload, it can also imply a lack of organization. The good news is that workers can fix this problem quickly and reverse any negative perceptions of their performance."

Haefner recommends the following to get your work area organized:

Schedule time with the office recycle bin – a calendar reminder for Friday afternoon to take completed projects to the recycle bin.

Work on one project at a time – while you may have 20 things on your "to do" list, prioritize what needs to be done that day when you arrive at work and take care of one project at a time.

Don't be a digital hoarder – Just because nobody else can see your clutter, doesn't mean it doesn't exist, especially in your email boxes. Delete un-needed emails on a weekly basis.

Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted online within Canada by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder Canada among 231 Canadian hiring managers and human resource professionals and 425 workers (employed full-time; not self-employed; non-government) ages 18 and over between May 19 to June 8, 2011 (percentages for some questions are based on a subset, based on their responses to certain questions). With pure probability samples of 231 and 425 one could say with a 95 per cent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 6.45 and 4.75 percentage points, respectively. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

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