Office Small Talk

Whether you like it or not, small talk is something that everyone engages in from time to time, if only because it's preferable to an awkward silence. But how do people feel about small talk in the office? We conducted a survey of UK employees to see what the general consensus is.

Small Talk in the Office: Survey Results

Interestingly, 81% of those surveyed - a big majority - found small talk in the office to be generally irritating. Does this figure surprise you? Let's take a look at some of the conversation topics that people voted MOST annoying when it comes to office small talk.

  • According to our survey, children and football were the most irritating topics of all.

  • Forced pleasantries, such as wishing colleagues a Happy New Year on the first day back at work, were voted irritating by 29% of respondents.

  • Trash talking one's colleagues was found irritating by 36% of respondents.

  • 23% of those surveyed agreed that conversations about evenings and weekends were annoying.

  • 17% of people don't like talking to their colleagues about the weather.

So why does office small talk persist despite the fact that so many people seem to dislike it?

Well, some find that small talk lessens feelings of awkwardness and makes the working environment feel more relaxed. Others may just enjoy it as a distraction from work!

We think this has been an interesting insight into the opinions of employees when it comes to small talk - do you think the results would be similar in your office?

Want to keep up to date with our latest insights into the world of work? Follow HRS on Twitter, or like us on Facebook!

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Arguing with Colleagues

Lots of people dread going to work in the morning, but this often has nothing to do with the work itself. Even the most tedious tasks can be enjoyable if you're working with people you like, and by the same token, your dream job can quickly turn into a nightmare when you don't get on with your colleagues.

If the people you work with are causing you stress, here are a few tips that can will hopefully make your working life a little bit easier:

Learn about the colleagues you dislike

If you know someone quite well, you are more likely to give them the benefit of the doubt when they do something that annoys you (whereas you may find it hard to tolerate such behaviour from a virtual stranger). Take some time to learn about your colleagues - who they are, what they're like, what makes them tick - and you may find it easier to like them.

Tip: Perhaps that short-tempered colleague of yours has just gone through a bad divorce that has left them exhausted or impatient. Or maybe management recently refused them a promotion. In any case, getting to know your co-workers will help you to understand where they are coming from and could help you learn to like them more.

Never gossip about your colleagues

When a co-worker is stressing you out, it can be tempting to vent your frustration to other colleagues once the offender is out of the room. You may even feel like spreading gossip about the person in the office or lab that you're not particularly fond of, but ask yourself: what good will come from doing this? Will it help build your relationship with them? Will it improve your chances of future promotion? Will it make your department work harder and more efficiently? The answer, of course, is no.

Tip: Instead of potentially making the relationship worse, try to find ways to improve it by being professional and respectful even to the colleagues who get on your nerves. If you do feel the need to say something, say it to the person's face (or make a formal complaint to management if necessary) rather than talking about someone behind their back.

Be the adult

When you were in school, teachers would expect you to be civil to everyone, no matter who they were or what may have happened between you. If you were able to do that as a child, you should have no problem doing it now!

Tip: You don't have to become best friends with the person you dislike - just be polite. Get on with your job, help others where you can, and if at possible, do not respond to childish bad behaviour. You might be surprised to find that professionalism can be very contagious!

Document your conversations

But what if a co-worker is doing more than merely getting on your nerves? Colleagues can sometimes say/do horrible things that make you feel uncomfortable or even unsafe. Words and actions can have a tremendous effect on a person - and it's important to report unacceptable behaviour to management so that it can be dealt with - but it can be hard to prove that someone said or did something if there is no record of it taking place. So what can you do? Make a record!

Tip: If you're having serious issues with a particular individual, try to stop speaking to them face-to-face and instead communicate via email so that every interaction can be documented. They may be more professional when they know that there will be a written record of any transgressions, and if their bad behaviour continues, you'll be able to prove it!

Are you the problem?

It can be hard to admit, but in some cases, dislike for a colleague may be due to that person not having the same bad habits as you. Nobody likes being criticised or told what to do, but before you take action, examine your own behaviour to make sure you're not giving others a valid reason to complain.

Tip: If someone keeps nagging you to complete a particular task, is it because they're impatient, or is it because you consistently let them down? If the latter, changing your own behaviour may trigger a dramatic improvement in the relationship between you and your colleague.

For more news and insights about the world of work, be sure to follow Hyper Recruitment Solutions on Facebook and Twitter!

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Manufacturing jobs

The onward march of technology has long been a double-edged sword in terms of its effect on employment.

On the one hand, technological advancement has created entirely new industries and led to increased efficiency, rapid production, and streamlining of the workplace in general.

On the other hand, automation has made a lot of formerly essential jobs obsolete, and those job losses will only become more widespread as the fields of AI and robotics continue to break new ground.

It's easy to see why so many people are looking for new lines of work that simply could not exist without human workers. So which jobs are safe from automation? And which are most at risk?

Jobs most at risk from automation

A 2017 report by consultancy firm McKinsey Global Institute projected that up to 800 million workers across the globe will lose their jobs to robots by 2030, noting that machine operators and food workers are likely to take the brunt of the hit.

While that may be a shocking statistic, technology reshaping the workplace is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a vital part of our evolution as a species - as time goes by, old jobs become redundant and new jobs become available that would have been inconceivable a few decades prior. The matchstick makers and lamplighters of yore couldn't possibly have imagined that their descendants would be designing websites, testing video games, and developing machine-learning algorithms for search engines.

Over the last half-century, however, jobs have been erased by technological advancement at an alarmingly fast pace. From switchboard operators to railway ticket sellers and the litany of factory jobs in between, it seems that no line of work is completely without risk of automation - even McDonald’s is creeping closer to fully-automated ordering with the growing influx of self-service machines.

But let’s not throw in the towel just yet. There are still plenty of vocations left that require a human touch!

What jobs are safe from automation?

According to BusinessInsider.com, the top 10 jobs least likely to become automated are almost exclusively health and social care role, with occupational therapists topping the list. Social workers are not far behind, closely followed by dentists, physicians, surgeons and nutritionists.

Outside of healthcare, creative jobs like choreography and exhibit designers also rank highly on the list. Creeping into the wider top 20, counselling and psychology roles rank well, as does teaching, while medical health and medical science are also fairly safe from the creeping threat of automation.

Industries likeliest to remain safe from automation

An Oxford University study titled The Future of Employment provides a great deal of insight into what human employment will look like in the future and, more importantly, the areas where human brains are most crucial.

Overall, healthcare and social sciences are the industries least likely to be automated in the foreseeable future. The human aspects of therapy and social care make these sectors relatively inaccessible for artificial intelligences. Boasting seven of the top ten jobs in the list, it seems that a career in healthcare is a fairly safe bet that shouldn’t see too much change in the foreseeable future.

Similarly, the emotional connection that's needed in the education sector also seems likely to ensure a steady future for teachers. Art & Design, Sport & Entertainment and Media are three other avenues that require individualistic input that is hard to replace with technology.

Skills needed for the jobs of the future

So what skills are most likely to secure steady employment in the future? Many industry experts point to three notable attributes:

  • Creativity - The expressive nature of creative jobs is not something that can be digitally automated, making proficiency in this a true asset that’s virtually future-proof.

  • Emotional intelligence - Empathy and emotional understanding are human characteristics that are notably absent in machines, safeguarding roles where human interaction is paramount. This is a big part of why healthcare professionals and social workers are unlikely to be replace by robots any time soon.

  • STEM proficiency - STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. These complex fields are relatively safe from automation, so a science or engineering degree should stand you in good stead for the future.

Looking for a career in the science or technology industries? Click the link below to browse vacancies from all over the UK!

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'Introvert' was once viewed as something of a dirty word within the recruitment industry and the wider world of work. Introverts (or so went the stereotype) were reclusive, uncooperative, and difficult to work with - not what any employer is looking for in a new recruit.

Luckily, the world has come a long way in recent years, and many character traits that were once wrongly deemed as negatives are now welcomed with open arms - an introverted personality being one of them.

Truth be told, being introverted actually has numerous benefits in the workplace, and an introverted individual can bring with them a number of attributes that are highly sought after by employers in a variety of different sectors.

Jobs for introverts

The benefits of being introverted

Being an introverted person can have a number of hidden advantages. Introverts typically possess excellent creative skills and imaginative ideas, making them a great fit for jobs that require originality, artistic flair, or outside-the-box problem solving.

Meanwhile, introverts are often extremely focused, highly productive workers who are undeterred by the hustle and bustle happening around them. What’s more, introverts tend to choose their words carefully, meaning that - while they may not speak up often - there’s weight to their words when they do.

The innate ability to work independently also promotes impressive organisational skills, which goes hand-in-hand with excellent prioritisation of work. In addition to that, these independent qualities also promote initiative, self-management and responsibility, without the need to over-rely on others.

That being said, it isn’t all plain sailing and there are undoubtedly a few hurdles for any introvert to overcome if they want to succeed in the working world.

Obstacles for the introverted

Unfortunately for introverts, the world of work does also tend to involve a number of situations that are not ideally suited to this type of personality. From the initial interview process to the working environment itself, the necessity for interaction, collaboration and general conversation is quite a departure from the preferred environment of your average introvert.

Open-plan office layouts and team-based activities are just two of the necessary evils that must commonly be confronted. On top of that, team meetings, occasional office socials and even communal dining areas can be uncomfortable settings for introverted people.

But don’t despair just yet, introverts of the world – it’s not all doom and gloom.

Introvert working

Jobs for introverted people

Luckily, there are numerous jobs that lend themselves well to introverted personalities. These range from IT-based roles to more physical jobs and everything in between.

Here are just a few examples from a variety of different sectors:

Graphic Designer

Top of the list of jobs that are ideal for creative introverts is that of the graphic designer. With the majority of the work being carried out solo, the vast majority of your working day will be spent working alone, left to your own devices.

While you may have to run through a brief with a client, manager or team, the design task is ultimately left in your hands. Better still, this also draws on the creativity and imagination commonly associated with introverted personalities, making this job the dream ticket for many introverts.

Best of all, this job can often be done on a freelance basis, allowing you to potentially bypass the office environment altogether and work in the comfort (and seclusion) of your own home.

Accountant

If you have a good head for figures, a job in accountancy could be extremely rewarding – both with regards to job satisfaction and financial reimbursement.

Attention to detail and a focused approach are two vital requirements for this profession; ditto the ability to prioritise and work to deadlines. For introverts that tick those boxes and command a solid knowledge of mathematics, this can be a fantastic career path to follow.

As an accountant, your main priority will be to analyse economic data, crunch numbers, and produce financial reports for clients and businesses, ultimately ensuring that they’re operating efficiently, legally and on-budget. Accountancy jobs offer a wealth of opportunities to progress, and there’s often the flexibility to work remotely as well.

Lab Technician

If you have a keen interest in healthcare but are put off by the idea of dealing with patients and the general public, a great way into the industry is via the laboratory door. If you get a job as a lab technician, you can expect to carry out routine technical tasks, sample testing and experiments, along with data analysis and risk assessment.

Depending on the field you're in, the role itself may be clinic-based or focused around research and development. You may find yourself working independently or under the direction of a more experienced professional - either way, expect a high degree of independence. A keen eye for detail and the ability to work well unsupervised are great assets to have as a lab tech, two attributes that many introverts have in droves.

Web Developer

For the computer-savvy introvert, web development can be a lucrative and logical direction to go in. As a web developer, you will primarily be tasked with designing, coding and modifying websites to meet your client's wishes.

While this is a position that can be done outside of an office environment, there are lots of in-house web developer roles as well; as such, you may be based within a team of other specialists. Nevertheless, it’s not unusual for a web developer to find themselves honed in on a job or project for hours at a time, meticulously programming away with no time to stop and chat.

As with many IT jobs, this can require a lot of independent working, left to your own devices to focus on getting the visual appearance and technical performance is up to scratch. If you see yourself as a focused, analytical introvert with sound IT knowledge, a career in web development could be a match made in heaven.

Writer

The job of a writer is an ideal one for introverts who are well-versed in the written word and have a creative flair for language. Best of all, writing jobs can come in many different guises, from the formal, straight-laced style of a technical writer to the more conversational, down-to-earth approach of a full-time blogger.

Meanwhile, writing also has the potential for good career progression as a self-employed solo venture or within a wider team, with editorial positions a logical next step. What’s more, the role of a writer also lends itself perfectly to freelance work and can be done just as easily - if not more so - when working remotely.

So, there you have it – proof that introversion doesn’t mean you have to be cut off from the outside world, banished to a secluded dungeon and forced to work alone by candlelight!

Here are some other useful links for introverts, particularly those who are seeking a career in the science or technology industries:

Interview Tips for Introverts >   Browse Science Jobs >

Job Interview Biggest Weakness

If you’re going for a job interview, you’re probably dreading the interviewer asking you to talk about your biggest weakness – and that’s totally normal. This very common interview question puts you on the spot and requires you to evaluate and talk about yourself in a somewhat negative way.

To minimise the risk of freezing up or saying the wrong thing, there are a few things you can do to prepare yourself for this question:

Understand WHY interviewers ask this question.

It might seem a little strange for an interviewer, who should be interested in your achievements and experience, to want to know about your biggest weakness. But the reason they ask this question is quite simple: they want to get past your smart, rehearsed interview façade to understand what you’re like as a person and what you’re like to work with.

Answer the question in TWO parts:

1. Identify your weakness.

  • Don't deny that you have weaknesses.
  • Choose a weakness that doesn't directly relate to the job.
  • Try not to get defensive or talk about yourself in an overly negative way.
  • Don't try to disguise a strength as a weakness - try to be honest.

2. Talk about how you're working on it.

  • Give an example of a time your weakness caused an issue at work, then explain how you resolved it.
  • Give examples of the ways you plan to work on your weakness (if you haven't started working on it already).
  • Be positive and confident - having weaknesses isn't something to be embarrassed about. Everybody has them!

Plan your response to the question.

It is quite likely that the interviewer will ask you about your biggest weakness - this question is so common at this point that it's on the verge of becoming a cliché - so we recommend preparing a constructive answer ahead of time.

  • Think carefully about your weaknesses and write them down.

  • Look at the job specification and highlight the key skills and attributes required for the role.

  • Compare your list of weaknesses to the key requirements of the job. Exclude any weaknesses that might give the impression you're not suitable for the position at all - e.g. don't give shyness as your answer if it's a customer-facing role requiring strong interpersonal skills.

  • Compose a strong answer relating to the remaining weakness(es).

Example of a good response:

Scenario: You're applying for a job as a lab technician. This job requires meticulous attention to detail and safe practices.

Good Answer: "I am not very good at public speaking. I get very nervous; I'll happily put my ideas forward when working in a small team, but on a larger scale, I do tend to struggle. However, I have arranged to go back to my university and give a talk to current chemistry students about my experience on the course - I'm hoping that this will help me to improve!"

Bad Answer: "I really struggle to be organised. My friends and family say I'm a bit of a slob, and I'm always breaking things accidentally. There's not much I can do about it, though - that's just who I am!"

Here at Hyper Recruitment Solutions, we can offer lots of helpful advice if you're applying for a job in a scientific sector. Click the link below to browse our latest job listings.

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