Do you think your employees need an etiquette class? Maybe.

Returning to the office, whether hybrid or a full transition, has presented a wide array of difficulties for employees. One of these may be a challenge you, as a manager, never saw coming. That would be training employees unaware of office etiquette rules or helping others brush up on them after years of working at home.

Consider etiquette classes

According to a recent study by of more than 1,500 business leaders, more than 6 in 10 companies will send their employees to office etiquette classes in 2024. You may find it beneficial to invest in your team by sending them to “charm school,” or using a service that brings the trainings straight to your office. The following are outcomes that can be expected from high-quality etiquette courses:

  • Training on maintaining professional behavior and suggested standards for actions, appearance, and attitude in a work environment.
  • An understanding of differing communication styles and how to properly navigate between them.
  • Preparation for numerous social situations, like networking events, business lunches, professional meetings, and more.
  • Tactics for engaging in small talk and communicating via email, phone, and virtual meetings.

Although these classes offer quality resources and structure for training your employees, the cost may be outside of your budget. Or it may be difficult to find the time to get everyone involved. As a manager, you can promote growth in these areas yourself. There’s a good chance your employees are entirely unfamiliar with some of these ideas, so take it upon yourself to constructively show them how to improve. Letting unacceptable behavior go by the wayside and expecting your team to figure things out on their own will only make matters worse.

Actions, appearance, and attitude

These three areas are key to capitalize on when bringing your team up to speed on business etiquette skills. Employees need a strong foundation to build their etiquette skills on top of, so encourage the following behaviors as a baseline.

Respect for colleagues’ time and comfort is crucial

Employees should meet deadlines and properly prioritize tasks to keep projects moving along and arrive at meetings on time to avoid wasting precious minutes. Shared spaces must also be treated appropriately by cleaning up after oneself in kitchen and dining areas, being quiet and clean in bathrooms, and avoiding leaving conference rooms in disarray after use.

The days of pajamas and bedhead on the job are over

Employees have an obligation to meet personal hygiene and grooming standards, however that looks in your workplace. How one presents themselves can speak volumes about your team, organization, and product. So it’s important for employees to follow dress codes or wear their uniform, if applicable. Stains, excessive wrinkles, and clothing with inappropriate messages or graphics should be addressed hastily to avoid future occurrences.

Positive communication should be a staple of your team

Workers should aim to use language that promotes teamwork and avoids negativity to foster a comfortable and productive environment. Integrity, transparency, and ethical decision-making are also cornerstones of a successful team. Diversity must not only be accepted but also cherished and celebrated by employees.

Communication strategies

You may find that employees think less about the recipient of messages than they should. When communicating, interpretations are often less about what one said and more about how they said it. Highlight these important considerations when communicating in different manners:

Direct vs indirect

For those who prefer straightforward approaches, emphasize using clear statements and action verbs (e.g., analyze, administer, secure). Avoid ambiguity, speak concisely, and clearly express opinions.

Employees who prefer a nuanced approach benefit from softened language. Use of terms such as “please” and “thank you,” indirect requests, ask questions, and pay attention to your tone of voice and body language.

Formal vs informal

Express to colleagues when it’s appropriate to be informal, such as when sharing ideas on Slack, discussing routine tasks, or sending quick updates. Encourage formal communication when working with clients, making official announcements, and writing reports and proposals.

Clarity is also crucial in written communication, so teach your team to utilize bullet points, headings and concise language when possible.


It’s important to establish a general understanding of how non-verbal cues may be received in the workplace. Promote the use of neutral or positive facial expressions to either let verbal communication take the forefront or convey approval. Combat the use of inappropriate gestures (e.g., middle finger, sexual gestures) and encourage the use of acceptable ones, such as waving or a thumbs-up.

Refreshing social skills

In terms of etiquette, this may be an area where employees have gotten particularly rusty. Here are some key skills to teach employees for social situations your team may find themselves in.

Networking events

Teach your staff to properly introduce themselves by speaking clearly and at an appropriate volume; providing their name, job title, and company; and showcasing a friendly demeanor. Encourage active listening and showing interest in conversation with non-verbal cues, such as a smile or head nod. Ensure your employees attempt to shake hands when it feels comfortable, and if the other party is not, respectfully withdraw.

Business lunches

If possible, have a mock business lunch to display proper dining and ordering etiquette. Employees should know how to properly hold and use utensils, handle napkins, order when it is their turn, and reflect a professional appearance while eating. Conversation should be appropriate, for both business and dining, but ensure your team balances professional and casual topics without overstepping boundaries.

Professional meetings

The most effective meetings are ones that stay on track with focused and productive discussions. Train your team to create and follow meeting agendas without derailing. Teach employees to convey ideas efficiently, ask appropriate questions, share helpful insights, and collaborate when possible. Stress the importance of arriving at meetings on time to respect other participants’ schedules and reflect a positive image of both themselves and the organization.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.