If the Sony hack wasn't telling enough, there's more evidence that "confidential" is a laughable concept at the office.
A new CareerBuilder.com survey of more than 500 office support staff—including custodians, mailroom attendants, security guards, receptionists, administrative assistants and maintenance workers—found that 53 percent had overheard conversations about confidential topics such as planned layoffs, worker compensation or romantic relationships between coworkers. About one in 10 said they knew something about an executive or coworker that could be a firing offense.
Another 10 percent said they'd seen something incriminating in the trash or around the office. To highlight just a few: Stolen event tickets, a letter from the boss' mistress, an employee's tax return, a picture of a partially dressed coworker and a pregnancy test.
"Absolutely [support staff] are not out to get you," said Michael Erwin, senior career advisor at CareerBuilder. "They are stumbling across these conversations in the hallway, or finding that paper at the copier." The issue is more that busy employees can get careless, he said: Who hasn't printed something but then forgotten to grab it at the printer? Or had a water-cooler gripe session about the boss?