“14 Habits that Can Cost You Your Job”: Lessons for Students, Teachers, and Course Developers

Dr. Tamara Fudge, Professor in the School of Business and Information Technology, Purdue University Global

While trying to avoid work on a Sunday, I came across an article from Forbes titled, “14 Habits that Can Cost You Your Job.”  There are plenty of articles that warn workers about self-imposed problems that can cost a job offer or promotion or even send you to the unemployment line. Instead of the typical “I-knew-that-already” commentary, though, this article has some valuable lessons for students, teachers, and course developers.

You can read the entire article here– and I hope you will – but for this blog entry, here’s a simple list of the issues noted:

  1. Lack of manners
  2. Speaking without thinking
  3. Inefficiency
  4. Temper tantrums
  5. Lone wolf syndrome
  6. Poor grammar
  7. Inattentiveness
  8. Bad body language habits
  9. Social media addiction
  10. Poor email communication
  11. Tardiness
  12. Negativity
  13. Lying (includes plagiarism)
  14. Procrastination

(Smith, 2015)

The author explains that typically it is a combination of factors, repetition of bad behaviors, or a “cumulative effect” that can lead to job termination rather than just “a single bad habit” (Smith, 2015).

In other words, checking your Facebook account one day may not be a problem, but checking it every hour of every day is. One temper tantrum might get you a bad reputation in gossip groups, but if it is not repeated, the outburst might be overlooked in time.  The severity of the “crime” might also be weighed, too; a blatant plagiarism of company materials is worse than one snarky hallway comment to a coworker.

In analyzing the article, four main areas become apparent:

  • Poor time management: Nos. 3, 9, 11, 14
  • Poor writing skills: Nos. 6, 10, 13
  • Dishonesty: No. 13
  • Unprofessional behavior: Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 8, 12, 13

So what does this mean for the academic?

The student

School is where you practice for the workplace. Remember to work on time management; it’s not something that ever “goes away,” but is a constant.  Understand that your writing skills are indeed important, even if it’s something you don’t like! Don’t plagiarize, and be honest but polite.  Always exhibit professional behavior in the classroom, email, seminar, and any other connection you have with faculty, staff, and fellow students.

The teacher

Encourage time management; offer tools (such as a course calendar), send email reminders, and help keep your students on track. Insist on good writing, no matter the topics covered by the course. Check for plagiarism, introduce learning moments, give advice and information, and if you have to, report students for plagiarism, so they truly learn the lesson.  Likewise, don’t let poor behavior slide. Encourage the students to always give their positive best.

The course developer

Make sure the workload is doable and distributed logically. No matter the course topic, you can consider including learning activities about time management and why it is important to write well and avoid plagiarism. Write assignments that have some uniqueness that make it harder to plagiarize, such as discussions that ask for analysis and reasoned opinions, assignments built upon from unit to unit, or a requirement for sources written in the last 6-9 months.  Avoid homework that is pulled from textbooks or online sources. Change topics or the format (a paper vs. a presentation, for example) when doing a minor revision of a course. Encourage good work behavior through team projects, live student presentations, and other thoughtful content.

While the Forbes article’s audience may have been employees, we can see a direct impact of these ideas in being a student, teacher, or course developer. The four main areas – time, writing, honesty, and behavior – are crucial in school, where the student prepares for an enhanced workplace.




Smith, J. (2015, August 6). 14 bad habits that can cost you your job. Retrieved from  http://www3.forbes.com/leadership/14-bad-habits-that-can-cost-you-your-job/

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3 Responses

  1. Fantastic article once again. I am going to share this with my students as well and on my social media since this information is great for everyone. Keep up the great work!

    • Tamara Fudge says:

      Thanks so much! Please do share. It’s helpful for students to see the connections between their course work with the workplace – from several angles. Thanks again for visiting the blog and reading my posts!

  1. January 27, 2016

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