Did you know that more and more corporations and workplaces are hiring business etiquette experts or sending their people to business etiquette classes?
Why, you ask? The introduction to Business Management Daily’s article titled, Add etiquette to employee expectations, please, summarizes it best saying that, “The rush of the modern—business-casual dress codes, virtual job interviews, using text messages to confirm business appointments—is turning corporate training departments into charm schools.
More organizations are sending employees to business etiquette classes (or hiring personal coaches) to put some polish on everything from business correspondence and conversational skills to personal hygiene.”
What do corporations have at stake? Both “professionalism” and “credibility,” in short, meaning their reputation is on the line.
With modern-day technology making face-to-face communication almost obsolete in the workplace people just haven’t developed the skills they need to communicate with peers, influence upper management – or worse – deal with valued clients.
However, the good news is that business etiquette classes are a great way to teach these skills to new and old employees who might actually be unaware of how their behaviour is affecting their reputation and how it’s reflecting poorly on the company’s image as well.
Here are 5 business etiquette tips to enforce in the workplace:
1. Enforce a dress code. Your company policy might embrace business casual all week, but some employees hear only the “casual” part of that dress code. Don’t blame your Gen Y employees if they show up for work wearing jeans, flip-flops, or filthy or revealing clothes. Maybe no one ever told them “business casual” is more about khakis than comfort.
Tips: Your dress code should outline precise do’s and don’ts for workplace attire. Address whether jeans, shorts, gym clothes, miniskirts, halter tops and other casual attire are appropriate. Provide photos of what’s acceptable and what isn’t. Pinpoint the necessities. Examples: Are socks and stockings required? How about shirt sleeves, jackets or closed-toe shoes?
Don’t assume everyone will read the policy. Incorporate dress code rules into new-hire orientations.
2. Encourage face-to-face conversations. They’re essential for conducting business. Yet too often, it seems easier to send an email, even to a colleague sitting in the cube next door than to stand up and speak to the person. Actually speaking to someone minimizes misunderstanding.
Tips: Instruct employees to quietly approach any co-worker within walking distance for a face-to-face conversation about anything that requires a response. Teach listening skills so employees know how to ask clarifying questions and allow others to talk without interrupting. Spend time explaining that eye contact is an important way to show interest in another person and to gauge that colleague’s understanding of what you are saying.
3. Outlaw personal use of social media during office hours. Office workers were three times more active on Facebook and seven times more active on Twitter in 2011 than in 2010, reports Palo Alto Networks, a network security organization.
Employees who spend time keeping up with pals via social media sites rob your company of productivity. And posting messages, sending texts and reading emails during meetings and conversations is rude and impedes communication from the person who is trying to talk.
4. Gauge civility and etiquette during interviews. It’s becoming common for recruiters and hiring managers to conduct interviews over lunch, where it’s easy to determine whether the job candidate is courteous to waiters and displays good table manners—like waiting until everyone is served before eating and swallowing before speaking.
Dining out can be a barometer for good judgment, too—like ordering a moderately priced meal instead of the most expensive item on the menu. It may reveal whether an applicant can engage in conversation and resist picking up a cellphone in the course of an hour.
5. Don’t assume workplace civility and etiquette are givens. Pamela Eyring, president of the Protocol School of Washington, notes that elementary and high schools no longer incorporate lessons in manners or socializing into their overcrowded curriculums. Too many busy parents no longer enforce rules about table manners, respect for elders and even saying “please” and “thank you.”
Business etiquette classes can go a long way in educating your employees on what’s acceptable and what’s not in the corporate world. They’re a small price to pay when it comes to all the hard work you’ve done to maintain your reputation.
If you’re looking for business etiquette classes in Toronto, Ottawa or anywhere else contact business etiquette expert Diane Craig who’ll work with you to design a custom etiquette plan that works best for your organization.