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Mars Drinks Office Connections survey reveals HR departments most prone to gossip

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Although members of the department trusted with the largest amount of confidential information in a typical firm, people working in HR are more likely than those in any other profession to tell a colleague a secret, according to a study commissioned by vending machine supplier, Mars Drinks Office Connections (MDOC).

While an average of 34% of UK workers have spilled the beans to a workmate, some 38% of HR professionals have divulged something private to a colleague.

The research, based on a survey of 2,000 office staff, including more than 400 HR professionals, looked into the how people communicate in the office.

It found HR professionals spend on average 29 minutes every day chatting to colleagues about non-work related topics, with family being the favourite topic of conversation, followed by TV and celebrity gossip.

But Graham White, HRD at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, has laughed off the findings. "Well done, Mars," he said. "Of course we talk a lot in HR, because we need to engage and interact with colleagues and co-workers. Of course we share among HR professionals the issues we deal with, because that's how we ensure we reach good solutions - whether working, resting or playing - we talk."

The survey also revealed the majority of HR staff (64%) believe technology has not made communicating in the office any easier. One in six prefer to chat face-to-face with colleagues, while a third would rather phone or email.

More than half (55%) of HR professionals think it acceptable to put kisses on work-related emails and nearly three-quarters (73%) believe it is also fine to add smiley faces or other emoticons.

But terms such as 'love', 'pet' and 'babe', when referring to colleagues, are not deemed acceptable, with three-quarters insisting they should not be used in the workplace.

Jenni Morgan, trade marketing manager for MDOC, added: "The office has changed. Many workers are having more fun and offices have become less formal."