UK office worker hears foul language 11 times a day

Within the average UK office, you can hear swear words being said 11 times a day or 55 times a week.

This is according to research from 4Com, a communication company. Which also found that 11 per cent of employees admit to hearing more than 25 swear words at work on a daily basis.

The top profanity used in the office is the word f*** at 68 per cent, followed by s**t at 58 per cent and b****y at 45 per cent. Middle management are the most foul mouthed within the office as 28 per cent of UK workers say they often hear their manager or supervisors swearing in the office.

A quarter (25 per cent) of workers say they often swear in the office and only now and again attempt to censor their language. Over a tenth (12 per cent) said they never filter their language, where as the other hand 19 per cent said they never use offensive language in front of colleagues.

Dr Jo Gee, psychotherapist and founder of The Luna Hive, a company that supports women’s health said:

Studies suggest swearing can be beneficial, as the process of swearing is often cathartic, letting out pent up emotion, as well as aiding storytelling or jokes. Perceptions of those who swear are also more likely to be linked to the words ‘honest’ and ‘credible’.

As to why people use them at work, for some, offensive language might be a ‘test’ for the work setting – with employees experiencing a thrill when swearing or using swear words to draw attention to themselves in a busy workplace.

That said, swear words often include a range of taboo words including sexual language, profanities, animal names, and vulgar terms, so this is part of why people find them offensive. Additionally, they are linked to negative emotions and our minds associate them with anger, even if they’re not used aggressively.

4Com offered some tips on how to avoid swearing at work:

  • Most swearing is linked to anger, so when something riles you up, take a long deep breath before reacting. This might just give you enough time to respond more appropriately
  • If you can feel yourself getting worked up, where possible, take yourself out of the situation briefly. Even just going to the bathroom and taking a few minutes to yourself can have a huge effect
  • If you often find yourself using offensive language when telling stories, or when chatting to colleagues, try and think of a couple more polite synonyms beforehand so you’ve got them in mind during the conversation. For example, switching out ‘what the f***’ with ‘what the heck’.


4Com surveyed 2,000 UK workers to obtain these results.

Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.