Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

Can Bad Etiquette Hurt Your Company Culture?

Proper etiquette isn’t just for the Miss Manners set, it’s also extremely important in the office. You want to maintain a positive company culture to keep your employees motivated and productive. For obvious reasons, employee morale isn’t likely to improve if your company ignores simple etiquette rules.

Companies expend time and effort to establish a top-notch company culture because they know this is the best way to attract top talent. From tech giants like Apple to newly established startups, companies wouldn’t spend so much time developing a great organizational culture if it wasn’t an important way to snag great talent.

Unfortunately, many companies ignore basic etiquette in the rush to dream up great benefits and fun perks. Your company might be the most fun place to work in the marketplace but if you ignore proper manners you’ll find employee morale down, regardless of your unlimited vacation time or office basketball hoop. Proper respect for your coworkers and employees is the best and simplest way to maintain a positive organizational culture.

Here are some easy etiquette tips your company should follow in order to attract the candidates you want to see in a video interview and keep them engaged when they become productive employees:

Put the cell phones away
Today, 91 percent of Americans have their cell phones within reach 24/7. So it’s understandable the very idea of parting with your cell phone might feel like ignoring your best friend. Cell phones in the office, however, can be a big distraction at best and an impenitent to actual communication at worse. Nothing is worse etiquette than stopping mid-conversation to answer a ringing cell phone. Your coworker will be annoyed and feel as if you aren’t respecting their time and listening with your full attention.

While it may be painful, the best way to avoid this problem is to have employees put their cell phones away during work hours. It’s also important to make sure all cell phones brought into the office are put immediately on vibrate or silent. You might want to make sure you don’t miss a call, but no one wants to listen to your ironic 90s-era boy band ringtone for five minutes because you ran to the bathroom.

While the no cell phone rule doesn’t have to be strictly enforced, especially if an employee has an emergency situation, make sure your workers know work hours are for communicating with team members instead of family and friends. This will improve communication, which will in turn improve your organizational culture.

Be careful around the holidays
The holidays can be a tough time to observe proper etiquette. Things get tricky, especially when it comes to gift giving. Some employees might feel like they need to get gifts for everyone, some will try to use presents to get in good with the boss, while others will want to conserve money without looking like a Scrooge.

Perhaps the best way to avoid this awkward situation and still protect your organizational culture around the holidays is to focus on giving back instead of just plain giving. Instead of doing a Secret Santa and watching your workers awkwardly try to figure out what to get people they might not know very well, focus on the spirit of the season instead. Start a toy drive, collect money for charity, or plan a volunteer trip for your company. Employees will feel good they gave back and avoid hurt feelings over poor holiday etiquette.

Watch your bonding activities
To establish a fun organizational culture, you might want to plan outside trips and activities with your workers. Just be careful what kind of outings you plan. Going to a local bar after work for a few drinks can seem fun and harmless on the surface, but a lot of etiquette problems can hide below the surface.

Any company trip or party with alcohol involved has the chance to get out of control and be a nightmare for both employers and employees. It might seem fun the night of the party, but it’s likely to be more than a little awkward the next day at work when hangovers abound. Make sure your workers know proper etiquette dictates they don’t get drunk at office parties. You might even want to avoid temptation and go for activities that are high on fun and team cooperation and low on imbibing, like team sports or trivia nights.

To safeguard the company culture you’ve worked so hard to establish, pay attention to these simple etiquette rules in the office. Your employees will thank you with increased engagement and productivity. Plus you’ll become known as a workplace which respects employees, meaning you’ll be more likely to see the great talent you need on the other side of the  webcam in a video interview.

What are some etiquette tips you can use to improve your company culture? Share in the comments!

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by MyTudut.

Heather Huhman

Heather R. Huhman is the Career & Recruiting Advisor for Spark Hire. She writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets, and is the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships: The Truth About Getting from Classroom to Cubicle (2011), and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010).