Workplaces all need rules

Deborah O'Connor

Deborah O'Connor

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Deborah O'Connor
February 25, 2013

How important is social strategy to your business? In today’s economic climate, it’s more important than ever.

There are several key aspects of a social strategy that can help or hurt your business prospects – and it’s not always something that’s at the forefront of every manager’s mind. Here are a few questions every manager or business owner should consider:

Do you think it makes a difference if you have a dress code? Can inappropriate behavior in the workplace cost you business? How do courtesy and etiquette, or lack thereof, translate into sales?

Let’s examine these topics a little closer.

Dressing for success

Not all companies have dress codes, and those that do don’t always enforce them. Dress codes set a standard for employees and help to eliminate many problems.

The general consensus of those I talked with agreed that the more professional people are dressed, the more professional people act.

The two biggest problems in the workplace seem to be inappropriate, sexy clothing and sloppy, worn-out attire. A clear and concise dress code can eliminate many problems before they happen. It’s much easier for employees if they know what is expected of them. There is a more liberal dress code in creative environments, and this can lead to a more lax attitude in general.

The fine line between casual dress and casual performance is easy to cross if there are not some guidelines in place. Many agree that it is better to err on the side of being over-dressed than under-dressed.

Some companies let employees dress for the day and the clients they expect to see. This is a slippery slope, as you never know when your most conservative client might pop into the office to say hello or drop something off.

Is this a chance you want to take? A properly enforced dress code goes a long way to ensure always looking your best. That first impression is so important. Why take a chance?

Are your actions appropriate?

Inappropriate behavior can result in hurt feelings, lost revenue, job loss and lawsuits. Employees can lose their jobs and companies can lose business.

Malicious gossip, dating among colleagues, sexual harassment and backstabbing are just a few of the ways businesses can be disrupted.

There are seldom second
chances, and often the results are not pleasant. Businesses usually have a handbook that new employees are required to read.

Incidents should be reported to the human resources department if they cannot be easily resolved.

I know an officer in a major company who has lunch with his support staff every week to keep his pulse on things. It has proven invaluable, as many issues can be resolved before they get out of hand.

While some companies have policies against inter-office dating, others do not.

Some companies have an attorney come in once a year to do a “reminder seminar” for all employees.

It’s also a great way to address new issues and rules within the company. However, no matter what measures are put into place, people will always find a way to break or bend rules.

Consider courtesy

It seems common courtesy and proper etiquette would be easy to maintain, but the opposite is true.

Most companies report that when voluntary seminars are offered on these subjects, the people who show up are usually the ones who don’t need it.

Everyone needs the skills to conduct business in a civil manner, yet rudeness seems to prevail in today’s society.

From dealing with customer service representatives on the telephone to face-to-face encounters with clients, courtesy and etiquette are crucial in every business. Etiquette seminars are becoming more popular in the workplace, yet most people think they don’t need it. However, when clients complain and jobs are lost, it’s way too late. A little common courtesy goes a long way, especially in these difficult economic times.

Deborah O'Connor

Deborah O'Connor is a social strategist and founder and president of Successful Image LLC with offices in Columbia and Atlanta. She offers training and seminars on image management, workplace etiquette, and social skills necessary to succeed in life professionally and personally. Contact at: deborah@successfulimage.biz.     www.successfulimage.biz