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Guide on Workplace Etiquette: 15 Tips for Developing Professionalism in the Workplace

Rising Importance of Professionalism in the Workplace

Written by HRCap

August 10, 2023

With recent college graduates joining the global workforce, companies are seeing the rising importance of professionalism and workplace etiquette. 40% of business leaders have reported that recent college graduates were not ready to enter the workforce. Of the employers that believed recent college graduates were unprepared, many have cited the following potential causes: work ethic (70%), communication skills (70%), sense of entitlement (51%), and a lack of technological skills (43%).

Many employers believe etiquette classes may be the solution and have begun developing and implementing them for new hires. In Resume Builder’s 2023 survey, nearly half (45%) of companies are offering workplace etiquette training, while 18% will implement it by 2024. Of those already offering such training, two-thirds are finding these courses have been ‘highly’ successful.

Even colleges and universities, such as Michigan State University, require students to take classes that foster soft skills. However, the need for professional training extends beyond recent graduates. In fact, 10% of all companies are requiring Gen Z (aged 18-27) and new college graduates to take these classes, while 60% will require this training for all employees.

With the rising importance of professionalism, recent college graduates, seasoned professionals, and all executives must review workplace etiquette to maintain professionalism in the workplace.

15 Tips on Professionalism in the Workplace

Workplace professionals, regardless of the work setting (remote, hybrid, in-person), must maintain etiquette and professionalism to help create a safe, inclusive workplace for everyone to thrive in.

Like any skill, mastering workplace etiquette and professionalism takes time and effort and involves continual learning. Adapting these skills to different situations requires a nuanced understanding of the work environment and colleagues.

Following the principles behind these 15 practical tips on professionalism will allow all of us to carefully reflect, consistently practice, and continuously build the necessary soft skills.

1. Show Up Punctually

Arriving on time is a simple but extremely fundamental way to demonstrate professionalism, commitment, and respect for others’ time. Being late harms our reputation, credibility, and trustworthiness, leading to missed opportunities for growth and career development.

2. Respect Shared Spaces

A commonly overlooked work etiquette is demonstrating consideration for shared areas. This may include eating food in designated spaces, avoiding strong-smelling foods, properly recycling, and cleaning up after eating. Another example is keeping conversations at an appropriate volume and limiting activities that may distract or disturb others.

3. Dress Professionally

It is important to dress professionally in the work setting. The dress code may differ depending on the company policy, work culture, and business context. Generally, professionals should wear modest attire that is appropriate for the work environment.

4. Improve Proper Body Language

We should avoid crossing our arms, fidgeting with our hands, or swaying back and forth when communicating in the workplace. Instead, we should foster effective nonverbal communication, such as maintaining eye contact, using open postures, and offering genuine smiles, which are essential to displaying confidence, openness, and professionalism.

5. Choose Words Carefully

It is important to avoid using slang and swearing. Professionals should thoughtfully think through what they will say and filter their language to avoid misunderstandings and foster a positive work environment. Thoughtful communication not only facilitates a positive work culture but also assists professionals in cultivating a unique professional brand.

6. Use Proper Email Etiquette

We must practice crafting well-structured, concise, and courteous emails, which is crucial in demonstrating professionalism. Depending on the company, it is essential to understand the work context and honor organizational structure by addressing others with proper titles. We should always proofread to check for a clear subject line, appropriate salutation, and correct grammar.

7. Be Present

Staying present in the moment is an essential work etiquette. This may mean muting personal phones and putting them away to minimize distractions. Being present also means giving undivided attention, whether it is doing work, listening to a coworker, or participating in a meeting.

8. Engage with Others

Knowing how to interact with others is a skill. We encourage offering a simple, warm greeting to coworkers and engaging in conversations by actively listening and reciprocating questions.

9. Respect Others

We must also learn how to value and respect colleagues in the workplace properly. It can start as simple as knowing and remembering a coworker’s name. Addressing individuals by their names creates a more personal interaction and helps to develop stronger relationships. Additionally, we should build cultural competency around different cultures, traditions, and beliefs to be culturally sensitive. This reduces misunderstandings and shows respect for diverse perspectives. Last but not least, all professionals should refrain from gossip. Gossiping not only affects the person being talked about but also generates increasing negativity and promotes a toxic work culture.

10. Create and Honor Personal Boundaries

Professionals should also practice setting boundaries between work and personal life, while also honoring the boundaries set by others. We must understand that not everyone is comfortable sharing personal information with colleagues at work. While there are appropriate moments for discussing personal matters, the workplace may not necessarily be one of them, for everyone.

11. Manage Conflicts Professionally

Handling disagreements or managing conflicts respectfully requires great emotional intelligence. We should build empathy and focus on finding solutions and building consensus. Effective conflict resolution demonstrates maturity and commitment to maintaining positive working relationships.

12. Take Ownership of Mistakes

We should also acknowledge and take responsibility for our own mistakes. Taking ownership shows integrity and willingness to learn and improve, which is a true sign of professionalism.

13. Give Credit Where it is Due

We must also acknowledge and celebrate our coworkers’ contributions. Some people may be tempted to take credit from their colleagues, but it is essential to give credit where it is due. Recognizing and appreciating others builds a workplace culture of collaboration and trust.

14. Be Accountable

We should also hold ourselves accountable and take responsibility for delivering our best work on time. Taking proactive steps to grow shows professionalism and true dedication to the job.

15. Practice Self-Awareness

Practicing self-awareness is an essential step in developing professionalism. It not only helps us identify our strengths and weaknesses but also provides clarity on our values and sense of purpose, which provides greater motivation. When we practice self-awareness, we are more likely to be conscious of our feelings and better manage our emotions. As a result, professionals with strong self-awareness can be more collaborative and effective at work.


Workplace etiquette and professionalism extend beyond mere behavioral guidelines. They are a product of emotional intelligence, cultural competency, self-awareness, organic relationships, and dedication. This cultivates a healthier work environment that fosters a culture of safety, respect, and collaboration. Through developing these soft skills, professionals can grow in their leadership and career development. Managers must also wield greater empathy and offer support and understanding while upholding proper accountability. This dual approach helps employees cultivate a sense of responsibility and ownership, which drives personal and collective success.

At HRCap, we provide training for both professionals and organizations to assess and build leadership skills. Partner with us to get a personalized solution for your developmental needs.

Sources: HRCap, Insider, Intelligent, Resume Builder


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