Workplace Etiquette: Has It Been Forgotten?

Workplace employees working

Change remains constant in a rapidly evolving, continuously developing world. It affects all aspects of life, from the food you eat to the new set of rules your client set for you at work. It doesn’t come as a surprise then that the climate at your workplace may change.

The New Normal in Offices

Today’s work environment feels more relaxed than it was several years ago. Some companies practice an open-door policy, encouraging junior staff members to interact with senior management. Others try to create a fun workplace to appeal to a younger workforce.

A study revealed that millennials currently comprise 15 percent of the global workforce. In the US alone, they make up a third of the total labor force. Along with the older generation x, and baby boomers, clashes in ideology, culture, and beliefs are commonplace. These people lived in different eras, had different upbringings, and varying beliefs. Etiquette that was the norm in the ’80s may no longer be in effect today.

A Kessler International survey reflects these changes as 84 percent of the respondents reveal the rudeness and lack of courtesy of their colleagues. Meanwhile, 64 percent believe that a majority of their coworkers lacked “moral compass.” Some of the poor behavior the respondents observed include:

  • Using street lingo in professional meetings
  • Inability to say “thank you” and “please”
  • Wearing unsuitable clothes to work
  • Inappropriate cellphone use
  • Sending poorly written business email

Some employees overlook the rudeness and lack of courtesy of others because they fear confrontation. Other respondents admit that political correctness prevents them from correcting other people’s behavior.

The Fundamental Workplace Etiquette

Harmony between colleagues and employers is pertinent to maintaining the business, making workplace etiquette critical. Practicing appropriate behavior not only demonstrates your professionalism, but it also secures efficiency and satisfaction at work.

Team working

What should employees do?

  • Show up on time – Being on time communicates your interest and professionalism. There is no excuse for tardiness. A meeting with a client in a room far away from your office? Plan and leave ahead of your scheduled time, so your client doesn’t have to wait. The same principle applies to any company related event.
  • Don’t “ghost” your colleagues and your boss – This is a relatively new trend in the workplace. It means failure to respond or show up — like a ghost. According to a study by Wharton University, ghosting happens both ways in the work environment. An employee who is unhappy with his work has a tendency to stop showing up and not go through the formal process of a resignation. Likewise, a company can neglect to send out proper replies to applicants who failed to make their cut. In business, there is a formal process for everything. Employers should inform applicants of their application status. Employees who wish to resign should follow protocol. Otherwise, they risk legal repercussions, like a breach of contract.
  • Be sensitive with social greetings – Know who you’re going to meet. Hugs and cheek kisses are off the table when meeting clients and strangers (unless your culture dictates that this is the norm). Doing so can result in awkward social greetings and unpleasant first impressions. Handshakes are professional, widely-accepted social greetings in the business sphere.
  • Treat everyone with respect – Everyone, from the CEO to the rank and file employees, deserves courtesy, integrity, and respect. Why? It’s the right thing to do. And it allows people to treat you in the same manner, letting them respond to you with trust.

Today’s work environment is a melting pot of cultures and generations. As such, conflicts are bound to occur. Although you may not be able to eliminate it, you can respond appropriately and confront any situation with professionalism.

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