May Sweeps Brings Office Chatter

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It always seems to be “that time of year,” doesn’t it? Whether it’s the winter holidays, March Madness or even wedding season, everyone refers to it as “that time of year.” And now, here we are again at “that time of year.” Not only is it graduation season for college and high school students, and the point in time when Spring Fever really starts to kick in – it’s also time for May Sweeps!

What do May Sweeps, when our favorite TV shows and series come to a close with nail-biting season finales, have to do with work? Well – a lot, actually.

U.S. workers are talking about television at work more than ever, according to the latest Spherion Workplace Snapshot survey. Forty percent of workers say talking about television at work increases office camaraderie.

American Idol is the most talked about TV show in the workplace for the third year in a row, with 33 percent of workers chatting about the contestants and their song choices. Seventeen percent of workers discuss Idol on company time and 9 percent engage in debates about the contestants with co-workers, according to the survey.

This year’s two most talked about shows were American Idol and Dancing with the Stars. In 2007, workers discussed American Idol and Grey’s Anatomy the most, and in 2006, it was American Idol and Lost.

Here’s how other popular TV shows ranked among watercooler chatter:

  • Dancing with the Stars – 15%
  • Lost – 13%
  • CSI – 10%
  • Grey’s Anatomy – 7%
  • The Office – 6%
  • Law & Order – 6%
  • Heroes – 5%
  • 24 – 4%
  • Big Brother – 4%
  • America’s Next Top Model – 2%

When it comes to gender, 36 perent of women named Idol the most discussed TV program and 21 percent named Dancing with the Stars. Among men, 30 percent also rate American Idol as the most talked about show at work, and 15 percent rate Lost as such.

Surprisingly, workers age 65 and older were more likely than any other age group to discuss American Idol more than any other show in the workplace, with 42 percent stating so. Workers age 50 and older (42 percent) rated Dancing with the Stars as most watched.

So, gather round the watercooler tomorrow morning and gabbing about your favorite Idol finalist!

One Comment
  1. I was recently “fired” from a job because I asked “Did anyone watch American idol/Dancing with the stars last night”. Apparently they considered that “idol chit-chat annoyance” and “too much personal conversation”. It seems that having a conversation period was considered a “distraction”. However, every time I turned around one of my co-workers was always getting the “inside scoop” on another co-worker and giving the information to my boss in a “low tone”.

    I wish I had seen the “warning signs”. They were there but nothing clicked together. My first sign was the fact that I was always hearing about someone quiting, asked to turn in their resignation, or was fired EVERY WEEK! This was a small company with less than 100 employees.

    My second clue was hearing about an upper management person being asked to turn his resignation in because of a comment he said in front of a customer. The comment was NOT sexual in nature, did NOT contain swear words, and was NOT an offense comment. The owner of the our company didn’t like him speaking to the customer.

    The third sign was when I was counselled on my “personal conversations” they mentioned that a joking comment I had said would have gotten me “fired” if the owner had heard it. They said “they understood it was a joke, but the owner wouldn’t have liked it”. I found that a bit strange. The comment had nothing to do with the company and was considered an industry “inside joke”.

    The final nail in the coffin was already put in the day I got there. I was hired with 14 other people. Those 14 other people were required to go through 2 weeks of intense training. Instead of the company putting me through the same training, they pulled me out after 2 hours. I never got a chance to “Bond” with the group. That group was angry at me for getting out of the training. (I had the same training somewhere else prior to hire). I was later told that I would be receiving the same training but I would be taking it on my own and fitting it into my workload. Which didn’t make alot of sense since I would be working directly with the 14 new people.

    The place was a communications nightmare. My department didn’t even care enough to learn the new 14 worker’s names. If I was caught talking to anyone, the convesation I had was reported. At one point, I even made sure that I limited my response to 2 comments at the most. I was caught between being “stuck-up” by one group and “Distracting” on the other.

    This experience has made me miss the “Water-cooler” conversations. Those conversations may be considered “Extra” but without them, you don’t have communication in your company. Companies can’t survive without communications. So I say, keep watching your “American Idol’s” and “Survivors”. They may be the secret to making your company succeed.

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