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If you’re a business owner wondering why you need to put some effort into creating a professional workplace, consider these statistics.
90 percent of people in a 2019 survey by Monster.com said they’d been bullied at work–51 percent of those by their managers. In another study by AARP, over half of older employees faced age-related discrimination. And between 2010 to 2018, workplace sexual harassment allegations rose by 2.8 percent.
Shocking, right? And these figures don’t even consider the productivity lost when employees are skipping work or not performing at their best due to a lack of professionalism from those around them.
If you’re looking to craft a workplace that offers a safe, fair, and professional environment, we’ve got a list of ideas you can start implementing today. So read on!
Since the rise of start-up culture, a common refrain says all that matters are results. We don’t care how you get there. This might seem like freedom to some, but it’s a recipe for disaster in most workplaces.
Managers are left off the hook when making sure people aren’t crossing important ethical lines in their quest to be the best. And that’s opening the door to a toxic workplace.
Instead, celebrate every instance of professional behavior in the workplace.
You don’t need to whip out the party hats and balloons every time someone praises a colleague. It could be as simple as calling someone to your office to thank them in person to setting up an employee appreciation program with rewards and bonuses.
Know When to Penalize
Just because someone is your top-performing salesperson (for example) doesn’t mean they should get away with behaving unprofessionally. If you’ve observed the behavior yourself, be sure to address it with the individual in private immediately.
Creating a culture of professional communication in the workplace is particularly important when dealing with complaints against other employees. If a staff member has come to you with a complaint, start an investigation right away, too.
If an incident of severe bullying or sexual harassment is reported to you, do the right thing. Advise that your employee consults with an experienced legal team on their best course of action: https://www.kingsleykingsley.com/sexual-harassment-settlements.
To avoid getting into a situation where disciplinary actions are necessary in the first place, add elements of professionalism into your hiring procedures.
Include the qualities you’re looking for in an employee in job descriptions. Make it clear in interviews what sorts of behaviors won’t be tolerated in your workplace. And learn to identify signs of unprofessionalism in interviews.
An Environment That Works
Designing a workplace that promotes professionalism isn’t as difficult as you think.
Whether your staff is hot-desking, working in traditional cubicles, or only coming into the office a few days a week, you need to make sure the environment offers both collaborative spaces and areas for quiet, independent work.
Employees also need to feel assured that essentials are taken care of. You don’t have to provide fancy lunches every day, but make sure your internet connection is speedy, the AC and heating work properly, and the office is bathed in natural or bright light.
Keep the clutter under control, too. Ensure your physical and digital filing systems are well ordered and have designated spaces for books, devices, stationery, and marketing materials. Encourage employees to keep their workspaces tidy and, if need be, rent a storage unit for bulky or less frequently used items.
Provide Coaching or Training
Maybe you think that a team-building weekend away once a year is enough to keep things civil at work. Or perhaps you’re completely clueless, wondering, “What is professional development in the workplace anyway?” It’s time to put back professionalism in the workplace training.
Set your professionalism policies in stone. If there are behaviors you expect employees to adhere to, write them out in an employee guide. Having things written down can also help both the company and employees in a wrongful termination lawsuit or other legal actions.
This is especially helpful for new employees, who may have come to you from a different workplace culture. They know what’s expected of them right from the beginning.
In some instances, you might need to arrange insensitivity or inclusivity training. A professional workplace is where everyone feels a part of the team, promotes diversity, and helps prevent discrimination. But at the same time, make sure your hiring policies reflect the acceptance of diversity you’re asking of your employees.
Be a Good Example
When it comes to standards of professionalism, business owners and managers should be the benchmark for their teams.
Communication is everything in an office, so lead by example in the language you use.
When talking with colleagues and staff members:
- Recognize personal prejudice and biases
- Don’t gossip or share private information about others
- Try not to swear
- Let others speak without being interrupted
- Never make inappropriate jokes or tease others
Get into the habit of saying please and thank you when it’s appropriate, express your gratitude to others for their hard work, and don’t hold back on giving credit where it’s due.
It’s also vital that you maintain a professional work ethic. Always meet your deadlines, don’t turn up to work late every day, contribute to group projects, respect other people’s time and space, and if you make a mistake, admit it.
After all, the respect you get as a leader relies upon what you do, not what you say.
Crafting a Perfectly Professional Workplace
Encouraging a professional workplace means creating an atmosphere that nurtures employees. And remember, unhappy employees don’t stay in a company for long. So if you need the bottom line reason to reward corporate professionalism, consider how much high staff turnover will cost you.
Be sure to check out the other articles on our blog for more business guidance and self-improvement tips.