After three years of remote work, employees across the U.S. are finally being called back to the office. In fact, ResumeBuilder.com’s survey of business leaders last year found that 90% planned to require employees to RTO in 2023.
In addition to experienced employees having to readjust to in-person work, newcomers to the job market seem to be having a hard time adjusting after years of COVID-related disruptions. Some colleges and companies are even offering courses on professionalism to Gen Z workers and new college grads to try to bridge the gap.
To find out how many companies are relying on office etiquette training to get their employees up to speed, in July, ResumeBuilder.com surveyed 1,548 business leaders.
- 45% of companies are currently offering etiquette classes; 18% will implement by 2024
- Of those currently offering classes, two-thirds say they have been ‘highly’ successful
- 10% of those currently or planning to offer classes say the training will be required for Gen Z and new college grads; 60% will require training for all employees
- Business leaders believe Gen Z workers struggle with ’soft’ skills
More Than 6 in 10 Companies to Offer Office Etiquette Classes by 2024
Forty-five percent of business leaders surveyed say their company currently offers etiquette training, 20% plan to offer training in the future, 25% have no plans to offer etiquette classes, and 10% of respondents were unsure of their company’s plans.
“In our view, office etiquette training is vital, not only for newbies but for everyone on the team,” says Mike Chappell, Co-Founder and CEO of FormsPal. “It fosters a respectful, collaborative work environment. With the pandemic, the shift to remote work definitely threw a curveball, and we did see the need to tweak our etiquette training. Virtual etiquette – like being mindful of time zones, managing video call fatigue, and effective online communication – became crucial.”
Of the 20% who plan to offer classes in the future, 45% say the classes will begin later this year while 44% say by 2024. Among respondents whose companies already offer etiquette training, 99% say the classes have been ‘highly’ (65%) or ‘somewhat’ (34%) successful.
When respondents were asked why their company has decided to offer these classes, write-in responses included:
- “The younger employees needed help with general office etiquette.”
- “There’s a lot of miscommunication on what’s appropriate for the office, so implementing a plan and executing it will put everyone on the same page.”
- “Some staff started wearing ‘very casual’ clothes to work that were just not professional in appearance.”
- “There were increasing complaints of a hostile work environment and complaints from patrons about the behavior of certain employees.”
- “We made the decision to implement these courses because we’re starting to interact with clients on a more regular basis.”
Appropriate Workplace Conversation Tops List of Office Etiquette Skills
When asked which skills will be covered in the etiquette classes, ‘making polite conversation’ was the most frequently selected at 78%, followed by ‘dressing professionally’ (75%) and ‘writing professional emails’ (69%).
Respondents also added comments such as:
- “What conversation isn’t acceptable”
- “Discussion of political standpoints and/or religion is discouraged”
- “Taking others’ beliefs into consideration”
- “Treating every person equally and fairly”
60% Will Require Office Etiquette Training for All Employees
Among companies who currently or plan to offer office etiquette classes, 60% say the courses will be required for all employees. Twenty-one percent say they will be optional for all employees while 19% say they will be required for certain employees.
“As we observed a decline in interpersonal skills and professional conduct in the workplace, we recognized a growing need for this type of training,” comments Young Pham, Co-Founder and financial advisor at Bizreport.
“We initially implemented the training program as part of the onboarding process for all new hires,” continues Pham. “We quickly realized, however, that office etiquette training is beneficial for all employees, regardless of experience level or position. As a result, we expanded the program to include all employees, allowing us to reinforce our company’s values and foster a collaborative work environment.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly increased the demand for office etiquette training. Employees have had to adapt to new ways of interacting with colleagues as a result of the shift to remote work and reliance on digital communication.”
10% Will Require Office Etiquette Classes for Gen Z and New College Grads
Of the group who say etiquette classes will be required for only some employees, 54% (or 10% of all companies offering classes) say the training will be required for most or all new college graduates and employees aged 18-27.
“It’s great to see that companies are taking action and acknowledging the need for Gen Z to learn the skills needed to be effective in an office environment,” says Chief Career Advisor, Stacie Haller.
“In addition to classes, many organizations are starting to implement mentorship programs from the onset. It’s important to note that the majority of respondents were from organizations with 500 or more employees, so I hope that smaller companies will be able to institute these programs as well.”
Additionally, 78% of this group (or 15% of all companies offering classes) say most or all employees who receive complaints will be required to take etiquette classes.
“We require such training now more than we ever did before as the success of our businesses is dependent on our teams’ abilities to develop relationships with colleagues as well as customers,” comments Isla Sibanda, Cybersecurity Specialist at PrivacyAustralia.
“This training is not required to be taken by people in our senior level positions. Taking into account the uncertainty and anxiety that the pandemic caused, it is a great idea for companies to start offering etiquette services to their employees. Post-pandemic this training has been on the rise as it helps create a professional, mutually respectful atmosphere that improves communication,” explains Sibanda.
Gen Z Employees Have Technical Skills But Lack ‘Soft’ Skills
It’s no secret that Gen Z receives a lot of criticism, so we asked business leaders to rank Gen Z workers’ level of competence in a variety of workplace skills.
While the majority agree that Gen Z is competent at tasks such as using office equipment (91% believe they are competent) and basic computer software (95%), fewer respondents said they are competent when it comes to “soft” skills such as taking constructive criticism (62%) and keeping controversial topics out of the workplace (66%).
“Gen Zers get criticized for lack of professionalism, which is code for not having the ‘soft skills’ needed to be effective at work,” explains Haller. “My preference is to call these ‘professional skills,’ as that truly emphasizes their importance in the workplace.
“Gen Z candidates never had the opportunity to learn these skills on-site as their experience in college or entry-level positions was remote due to the pandemic. As our survey shows, companies are now understanding that Gen Z employees lack these skills and need training from day one to accelerate their learning curve and quickly adapt to an in-office environment,” Haller says.
This survey was commissioned by ResumeBuilder.com and conducted online by the survey platform Pollfish from June 30 – July 7, 2023. In total, 1,548 participants were surveyed, with 1,000 passing the screening and completing the full survey. All participants had to pass through demographic filters to ensure they were currently age 25 or older, employed for wages (90% quota) or self-employed (10% quota), and had a household income of at least $50,000 per year.
Additionally, respondents had to work at a company with at least 11 employees and identify their organization role as one of the following: C-Level executive, president/CEO/chairperson, owner or partner, Chief Technical Officer, Chief Financial Officer, HR manager, senior management, director, or middle management.
The survey used a convenience sampling method, and to avoid bias from this component Pollfish employs Random Device Engagement (RDE) to ensure both random and organic surveying. Learn more about Pollfish’s survey methodology or contact [email protected] for more information.