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How to spot the seven deadly work sins - and what to do about them!

Voco Team

We spend around 84,365 hours over a lifetime working. Yes, it’s a terrifying statistic! And all this time spent working can cause complacency and encourage selfish behaviours - or work sins - to take hold.

Sometimes we don’t realise but we exhibit behaviours that make life for ourselves and those around us difficult. Emotions like anger, greed and envy rise to the surface as work becomes more demanding.

It sounds ominous but the truth is we’ve all felt these emotions at some point. Sadly when in a stressful situation they can linger a little longer.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! Recognising you’re committing these sins is the first and best step towards breaking the habits and maximising your contentment and potential at work, as well as being a positive force to those around you.

Here are our top tips on how to recognise and avoid the seven deadly work sins. Read on if you dare….


Conflict in the workplace is almost inevitable. Stresses such as deadlines or uneven workloads can cause tensions to rise between coworkers. 

Anger is the most formidable of the deadly sins. It can cause the most volatile reactions, sometimes set off by seemingly inconsequential events like the wifi going down or the printer breaking. This can lead to you isolating yourself and causing workplace arguments that affect the rest of your team negatively. 

Chronic stress can actually “rewires the rage circuits,” and cause more outbursts. So it’s no wonder we get so wound up at work!

But anger doesn’t have to be a bad thing and you can use it to your advantage. The key is understanding how to do that. Pixar actually recruited frustrated and angry animators as they were more likely to change things for the better. And guess what…they made The Incredibles.

So anger can be used as a force for good, as Dr. Brittney Cooper writes, and can actually increase confidence and provide strength in difficult situations. If you feel angry at work, try to harness the power it gives you. It could give you the confidence to push for change. 

But we would suggest taking time to calm down first so you don’t end up screaming at someone.


Sloth, although sharing its name with one of nature’s most charming creatures, is one of the more frustrating of the deadly sins. There's always someone in the team that doesn’t pull their weight and the likelihood is, if you can’t think of anyone, then it might be you! 

Having a sloth around can be harmful as it hampers optimisation, and results in frustration and resentment. And having someone on the team with poor time management skills, or a tendency towards procrastination or laziness can cause more pressure to be put on other coworkers.

But fear not! The answer lies in motivating the sloth, whether it’s in you or the person that sits next to you. Studies show that motivation is a huge part in our lives and we all have individual motivators that push us along. 

Make daily and weekly goals so you can hold yourself and others accountable to stick to a productive schedule. Small things like setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier so you’re not rushing in the morning and praising people for coming in on time all adds up to positive reinforcement and motivation! 


We experience envy in all areas of our lives, we’re only human after all. At times it can be hard to avoid, and we can waste our energy being envious of someone else’s career, relationship, lifestyle and so on.

Envy is defined as the ‘discontented longing for someone else’s advantages’ and can breed a competitive and disloyal workplace, where that envy is born out of feelings of inadequacy. And it’s easy to feel that way. There’s always someone taller, stronger, smarter or richer around the corner. We presume Elon Musk or Usain Bolt isn’t reading this…

Envy can damage company culture and morale, it is up to individuals and leaders to set an example of goodwill and being happy for others and grateful for one's own achievements. 

People may feel as a leader you have unfair advantages and privileges. Showing vulnerability to those around you allows people to see that grass isn’t always greener and your role can be just as demanding, if not more so, than theirs. 

Demonstrating honesty and vulnerability about feeling inadequate allows others to also confide and then you can all work together as a team to get people to the level they want and feel confident in their own abilities. 


We’ve all heard the story of Icarus, the man who flew too close to the sun, blinded by his ambition. Greed comes in various forms, and when it comes to the workplace it can manifest as unwillingness to share praise and to step on others in order to achieve. 

Greed, in modern culture, is villanised as a lack of morality. You simply have to look at the universal hatred of the Wall Street bankers in 2008. On a smaller scale, greed for glory can sow discontent in your colleagues as it encourages disloyalty. This could result in people not wanting to collaborate, or overlooking you for projects. 

It could also mean that your colleagues will not give you credit in return, creating a nasty cycle withholding gratitude, potentially leading to a hostile environment. 

Being generous with praise and support for others doesn’t mean you will sacrifice your own personal success. It’s scientifically proven that you are more likely to succeed when you collaborate. So get to it!


Taking pride in your work is vital in working to your highest potential. Pride has actually been found to increase persistence and make people work harder.

But, having too much pride can become an issue if it crosses the line into arrogance. Believing your own hype can mean that feedback falls on deaf ears and constructive criticism is dismissed. 

Regardless of where you are on the career ladder there is always a chance for growth, there is no ceiling when it comes to learning. Those organisations with continuous learning cultures are 92% more likely to innovate. 

Pride is a positive tool when utilised properly. The trick is to take pride in what you do, and do it to the best of your ability, but be open to other people’s perspectives and inputs, and remember that everyone is a work in progress.


Hold on a sec, we’re not talking about office romances here are we? Nope, lust can actually mean lots of different things, and in the workplace it’s more likely to manifest as an insatiable desire for money or a promotion, as an unrequited yearning for Bob in Marketing. (Sorry, Bob.)

A lustful focus on cash and / or seniority can cause complacency in the present, and obsession about what the future holds. A mindset of ‘if only I had more money’ or ‘when I have that promotion everything will work out’ can distract from the here and now. 

There is a lot to be said for experience. Although the allure of perceived success can be tantalising, it’s also important to work your way up, and at a pace that allows growth and learning, so you’re fully prepared and have earned the future rewards.


Our final sin is gluttony, and this one is actually very simple to address… just use restraint!

This can be when it comes to snacking, spending money or even an indulgence that is unnecessary. Those of us who work in offices know how easy it can be to sit all day and snack all day, which can cause fatigue and a general low feeling after caffeine or sugar highs. 

Make sure you’re keeping to a healthy diet and maintaining an active lifestyle so you have a work life balance that makes your body and mind happy.  

Going to the gym on your lunch break may sound like the last thing you’d want to do, but if you've been sitting down for hours, it’ll feel great to actually get moving. Not only that but you can actually work up an appetite, and are likely to be far more productive with all those endorphins firing!

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