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They’re Watching You: The Do’s and Don’ts of Workplace Behaviors

Starting your first professional job is exciting. It can also be a little intimidating. In addition to accomplishing the tasks outlined by your supervisor, there is a bit more that is expected of you–some of which will never be communicated outright and hence the reason to read on. 

There are specific etiquette rules that relate to the workplace. Here is most of what you probably need to know:

1. The proper way to call in sick is to connect with your supervisor immediately at the start of the workday. A call not an email or text is required. However, if you know your call will go to voicemail and your message may not be received in a timely matter, write your words in addition to calling.

2. Give your supervisor as much notice as possible if you need any personal time off. Even though you are entitled to vacation time, and that time should be at your discretion, it is proper procedure to ask for the time by saying, “I would like to take the week of February 12th for a vacation. Is that okay with you?”

3. Be punctual. Respect the workday hours and don’t be a clock-watcher. Notice when the most conscientious staff members arrive and leave and use that as a guideline.

4. Always dress appropriately for the work environment. If you are going out after work, bring a change of clothes with you and change when you arrive at your destination.

5. Don’t take care of personal business while at work. It is wrong to surf the Internet, make or receive personal phone calls or text messages, or even spend significant amounts of time in idle chatter with colleagues. This is true even if you have finished your work ahead of schedule and there is nothing else to do. In a workplace, there is always something that needs attention. If it doesn’t jump out at you, ask how you can contribute.

6. Think carefully before personalizing your workspace. Use good judgment in choosing pictures or knickknacks for your desk.

7. Don’t write a single e-mail message that could ever embarrass you if it was read by your boss or colleagues. Remember, the company owns the computer and can access the server where your e-mails have been.

8. Steer clear of office politics. If colleagues are bad-mouthing the boss behind her back, don’t contribute your two cents. It is almost guaranteed to backfire on you.

9. Be wary of adversarial relationships. Cliques of employees sometimes develop at work. As the newbie, it won’t be long before someone tries to recruit you to their camp. Stay out of the war by telling each person, separately, that you don’t want to be in the middle.

10. Contribute in due time. If something seems like it should be changed, you may indeed have a great idea or you may be naïve to the bigger picture. Start your job be being a great listener and observer.

11. If a job goes sour and you need to quit, squelch your hostility and take the high road. Write a business-like letter of resignation and give two weeks notice.

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