Conduct · Job hunt · Toronto

Professionalism and Workplace Etiquette

Hey again, 

So for my Co-op class at Seneca, we are learning about how to network, job trends in our field (hence my previous post) and how to manage stress and proper workplace etiquette. Our assignment this week is to highlight and educate, in a creative way, on 1 of the above topics that were presented by my other classmates. I chose professionalism and workplace etiquette because I think it’s the most relevant for many of us who will be starting co-ops in the Fall.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the presentation:

Email and phone etiquette are important – In any job you have or will have, emailing and talking on the phone is necessary! It’s important to understand what is suitable for both emailing and speaking on the phone – in a work setting, always tailor your messages (verbal and written) to the work setting. Professionalism is key!

Also, don’t use the company email or phone accounts to make personal calls. Take a break or step out of the office if you need to send an email or speak with a family member or friend – on your own device!!

One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the presentation, that is also important (IMO) is to understand how EXACTLY to work the email server or phone. One mistake or accident can make a big impact. For example the ‘Reply All’ button – be wary!

Business Lunch and Lunch in General

Always remember that a business lunch is for the business – don’t overindulge or act too ‘casual’, you are there on behalf of the business and represent your workplace. It’s important to be polite to the server, use your BEST table manners, and never take leftovers back to the office/home.

When having lunch at work (aka every day), try and eat your lunch in the breakroom. This helps relieve stress and is less anti-social. Developing work relationships helps make work-life more enjoyable. However, keep conservations light and casual. CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF and DO NOT LEAVE FOOD IN THE FRIDGE FOR WEEKS. This is particularly important – you don’t want to have a bad reputation of being ‘the messy’ one.

Workwear and Dresscode

Every workplace or company has their own dress code that is usually made clear before your first day. Most companies will send a formal written document that entails what kind of dress is appropriate. There are two types: business casual and business formal. It seems like most industries nowadays are becoming more business casual (yay!), however, each type can vary employer to employer. Some general tips:

  • Try and gauge how other people dress within the first few weeks – you don’t want to be overdressed or underdressed
  • THAT being said, overdress the first couple of weeks. It’s ALWAYS better to be overdressed than underdressed.
  • For woman: Black dress pants (or skirt), blouse, and blazer
    • Ensure that skirt or dress is touching the knees
    • Go easy on the heals
  • For men: Black dress pants, shirt and sports jacket (or suit)
  • Casual Friday is casual… But not too casual. Gauge the level of casualness from what your co-workers or boss wears.
  • WHEN IN DOUBT: Refer to written dress code

Conflicts in the workplace

Conflicts are inevitable, whether in our own personal lives, with our family, at school, and yes in our jobs! Whether it’s a clash of personalities, rumors, or different points of views or project-related conflicts, it’s important to address conflicts ASAP. Get advice from co-workers, and if necessary consult with your supervisor or boss. Some organizations will have mediators if the conflict is big.

Own personal advice – from my experience when starting a new job, reading and understanding etiquette codes, dress codes and codes of ethics are important. Read them thoroughly so you understand what is allowed and not allowed.  Many things are not as obvious as you’d think!

For further tips on professionalism and workplace etiquette, click on this link. You can find more resources via LinkedIn, the school career site or newspaper articles. When in doubt, ask your co-workers, family, and friends!

Good luck everyone in their co-op search! 


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