Appropriate workplace conduct refers to actions and demeanor that are acceptable at a place of employment. The effects of inappropriate conduct may be limited to the person who displays it or it can be further reaching and have a negative impact on the employer. There are generally consequences that can be imposed on people who act inappropriately at work. Although every act may not be specified, both proper and improper etiquette, are commonly addressed in employee handbooks or contracts along with the procedure for handling violations.
Most people understand that there are things that need to be done at work and there are things that should not be done. Although a large portion of workplace etiquette is a matter of common sense, employers still tend to address inappropriate conduct in employee handbooks and contracts. Such items often include appearance regulations such as barring sexually provocative dress, the wearing of facial piercings, or the wearing of apparel that displays offensive images or wording. Behavior such as using profanity, physical confrontations, and attempting to steal clients are also commonly forbidden.
What is considered appropriate workplace conduct may be determined by a number of entities including government, professional associations, and business owners. Government tends to limit its involvement in these affairs to matters that have the potential to be substantially harmful to society, such as workplace discrimination or consumer fraud protection. Professional associations can help to contribute a degree of consistency to conduct standards by outlining factors that affect professionalism.
The ability of individuals to determine which workplace etiquette is appropriate often results in appropriate workplace conduct in one environment being viewed differently in another environment. For example, a major commercial bank may deem it inappropriate for employees to ever dress casual or to address clients using their first names. A local bank may believe that casual dress and interaction using first names benefit the business.
Inappropriate workplace conduct issues are generally handled by supervisors or managers. There are several consequences an individual who displays inappropriate workplace conduct may be subjected to. These include written warnings, being overlooked for promotions, and dismissal.
The actions of individuals who act inappropriately may also have an impact on other employees. An increasing amount of attention is being paid, for example, to people who create hostile work environments. Inappropriate workplace conduct, when revealed to clients, can also result in a loss of business or in lawsuits.