Does the treatment you receive from your co-workers affect your productivity? According to one Forbes article, 48% of poorly treated employees have at one time intentionally decreased their productivity due to ill treatment. Additionally, 12% confirmed that rude behavior caused them to quit their jobs. This unintended turnover can result in an estimated loss of $50,000 per worker. Who would have thought that office etiquette could be such a large factor in organizational productivity! Given the potential bottom line impact of office etiquette, what can organizations do to successfully manage interpersonal relations?
In many cases, workers aren’t aware that they are being rude to others. For instance, where some may consider a co-worker’s use of a BlackBerry as being rude, the unintended “offender” may think they are showing concern for customers by giving real-time responses to inquiries through their mobile device. Technology demands more of people, and deadlines are often shorter as a result.
Additionally, generational clashes also play a part. The following chart displays a number of differences between four generations of employees born between 1922 and 2000:
Communication styles vary from formal and in-person for Veterans and Baby Boomers, while Generations X and Y both primarily use immediate forms of communication. As a result of these differences in styles, miscommunication can occur. This miscommunication in turn can be perceived as rudeness or even hostility. Generation Y in particular has the largest physical disconnect, as they are primarily known as multi-taskers – IMing, emailing, and reading while using their mp3 players, for example.
On the subject of Generation Y, USA Today mentions that “Technology has allowed them to blend their schoolwork into their personal lives seamlessly and wirelessly, so they balk at the image of a rigid 8 to 5 office where everyone’s tethered to a desk. Still, they seek a balance between work time and free time…”. Since Generation Y is noted for being forward-thinking, open, and loose, they tend to often expect the same from their workplaces. Interestingly enough, some organizations are striking a balance. JPMorgan interns can listen to their iPods at the office, and the dress code has changed in recent years. For example, in 2004, “…the guidelines advised women to be mindful of ‘everything from runs in their stockings to too-tight tops.” Then, in 2005, the guidelines were “‘much simpler’ as employees are suggested to ‘sit in front of a mirror and make sure you don’t look distracting’.”
Similar to JPMorgan’s experience, do you see areas where your organization may need to reconsider its approach to the incoming and arriving Generation Y workers? Perhaps even a workshop to bridge the gap between the generations and their communication styles?
On a more personal level, what can one do individually to demonstrate proper etiquette to his / her fellow employees? Here are some tips from CNN.com:
- Respect others’ private space. This means not squeezing into an obviously crowded elevator. Don’t bombard a fellow worker with work related questions while heading out for lunch, the restroom, or a meeting.
- The classic ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘hello,’ and ‘bye’ are always needed. Polite small talk at the water cooler, or anywhere else where such communication can take place, can encourage an open, happy, and friendly environment.
- Give people sufficient time to respond to your inquiry. There is no need to call, e-mail, and then call again in one day unless it is an immediate emergency. Priority is essential. Respecting co-worker time is also needed.
Tech Republic adds these suggestions for using e-mail effectively:
Remember the purpose of the different type of recipients in e-mails:
- To: For individuals responsible for acting on the information
- CC (Courtesy Copy): For individuals who need to be aware of the information being shared with the “To:” recipient but not are required to respond to it.
- BCC (Blind Courtesy Copy): Like the courtesy copy, the blind courtesy copy is meant for individuals who need to be aware that information was shared to the “To:” recipient. The major difference, however, is that as the sender, you may not need or want the other respondents to know that the BCC recipient is receiving anything. BCC is commonly used in two scenarios:
- Broadcast mailings, where you should put yourself in the “To” line and the broadcast recipients in the BCC line.
- Sending mail to outside parties and alerting people within the organization that the message has been sent.
Simple steps can go a long way in improving the overall politeness of an organization and office setting. Try putting some of these tips to practice and see the difference!