Survey Indicates Decline in Workplace Manners

MENLO PARK, CA -- A few more "pleases" and "thank yous" in the office would definitely be welcome, a new survey suggests. Nearly half (44 percent) of workers polled recently said the level of professional courtesy at work has decreased over the past five years.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from 525 men and women, all 18 years of age or older and employed full-time in professional environments. Respondents were asked, "Do you think the level of professional courtesy in the workplace has increased or decreased over the last five years?" Their responses:

Increased greatly 9%
Increased somewhat 27%
Not changed 18%
Decreased somewhat 29%
Decreased greatly 15%
Don't know/no answer 2%


"In today's fast-paced business environment, it's not unusual for people to pay less attention to matters of workplace etiquette and protocol," said Liz Hubler, OfficeTeam executive director. "But time spent showing consideration for others is a smart career investment. People have long memories when it comes to how you treat them; the courtesy you extend will be noticed and reciprocated." 

Hubler offers the following courtesy "checkpoints": 

  • Do you value others' time? Never assume a co-worker is less busy than you. Show respect by sticking to project deadlines, returning messages promptly and arriving on time to meetings.
  • Do you leave a telltale trail in your wake? Don't inconvenience others by leaving last week's leftovers in the office refrigerator or paper jammed in the copier.
  • Are you courteous? Remember to say "please" and "thank you," even in brief e-mail messages. If you sense a problem or have bad news to deliver, don't play phone tag - meet in person instead.
  • Do you respect boundaries? Be sensitive to your co-workers' need for privacy. Knock before entering anyone's workspace and ask whether it's a good time to talk before launching into a discussion.
  • Do you give credit where it's due? Always let your manager know when you've received help on a project and be sure to praise your colleagues on a job well done. 

OfficeTeam has more than 300 locations worldwide and offers online job search services at www.officeteam.com.

Editor's Note: For a copy of OfficeTeam's Workplace Protocol Quiz, please contact Maureen Carrig at maureen.carrig@officeteam.com.

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