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Welcome to The JoyPowered® Workspace Podcast, where we talk about embracing humanity in the workplace. I’m Susan White, a national HR consultant. With me is JoDee Curtis, owner of Purple Ink and author of “JoyPowered®” and “The JoyPowered® Family.”
JoDee, I’m really excited about today’s topic, office etiquette. We’re going to explore how people behave at work, how they treat each other, and what are some smart rules of the road if you want to be a considerate office mate in a JoyPowered workspace.
I think I have a lot of work to do on this issue, Susan, but I do think it’s going to be fun. We got lots of input on this topic for today.
We certainly did. In preparation for today’s webcast, we asked our listeners, “What are some of the things that irk you in the workplace?” And I got to tell you, I was amazed with how many people have pet peeves, and I could tell when they shared them with us on all the various social media that they…it was kind of therapeutic, I think, for them to get it out. You know, what really kind of scares me is that I heard some things that really irks people and I gotta tell you, I’m sure I have done a few of them. So hopefully after today, no more.
Well, hey, you know, the first topic that I think we got the number one number of responses on was email. And what’s really interesting about that, Ving! reported in 2016 that 8 million emails are sent every second in the world. The typical corporate worker sends and receives at least 110 emails a day.
I believe that, because I know I way surpass that number.
I imagine that you do. It’s amazing. One thing that irks people that we that we heard was when people don’t respond to emails. JoDee, I have never found that to be true with you. You are on it, girl. So we did have a listener, Jordan from Delaware, who, when she wrote in, told us bad email etiquette is a pet peeve of hers. She thinks that knowing when to email, who to put on the email, and when to just pick up the phone or even request a meeting is really important. She says when people inappropriately blast things via email, it can send mixed messages and cause too much unnecessary confusion. Knowing when to interact with people is something she thinks is lacking in the workplace.
I agree, and I…so many good points in that comment.
So, do you have any guidance for, like, who do you decide to put on an email versus when do you decide to pick up the phone and call them? Do you have any tips, JoDee?
Well, honestly, this is probably when I’m not so good. As you know, I work a lot of odd hours, or I get to my email a lot on the weekends or in the evenings when I don’t want to call people, but I want to keep the process moving. So I probably send too many emails when I should make a phone call, but I think certainly, to schedule a meeting or to ask a quick question that can be difficult to explain, or not even to ask a quick question, but to answer a question sometimes when it’s so much easier just to have a conversation about it. In scheduling meetings. I’m a big fan, if you have a group of people, of using Doodle, which is a very simple system that allows people to pick different options of when they’re available to meet for a meeting, but otherwise, it’s a huge pet peeve of mine to send 300 emails back and forth about when people are available for a one hour meeting.
I am with you. It’s interesting for me right now, I kind of struggled with when is it okay, or what is it important that I go ahead and text somebody as opposed to email them. I’m starting to notice there’s people who aren’t very responsive on email, but they’re very responsive on texts. However, I sort of feel like when I text somebody, I’m almost invading their personal space, right? It’s kind of like I’ve reached over into their personal life.
Right. Right. I’ve noticed myself texting more, and I try to avoid that too. To me, that seems very personal. Certainly when it’s, hey, I’m running 10 minutes late or…
…are you available to chat, or really quick things. But it was ironic, just yesterday, I had a text from someone who was introducing me to someone else and wanted to know if we could set up a time to meet, and I immediately responded back, can you send me your email so we could do this?
I didn’t even know who the other person was.
And I…I just wanted to have that conversation in email and not on a text. But it took me about three texts later to actually get her email response.
Yeah. I…I agree with you, I…I sometimes feel that when someone’s trying to do a lot of messaging in a text that it kind of does wear…it wears me out. I have to keep scrolling down to read the rest of it.
I think my best practice on that would be if it’s more than just a quick question or a quick “I’m going to be late,” I think email’s the right answer. So I did a little bit of research and I found a book called “The Essentials of Business Etiquette,” that Barbara Pa…I’m gonna say Pachter, hope I’m pronouncing this correctly. P-A-C-H-T-E-R. Pachter, maybe. She…and she offered in this book 11 rules on how to do polite emailing. The first one is make sure you have a clear, direct subject line. I tell you what, if I don’t see a subject now, I start to think it’s spam. Don’t you?
Right. Yeah, absolutely.
And secondly, use a professional email address. No babygirls, heyhoney.
I can tell you, too, for…if you’re looking for a job, especially, those goofy emails that might have been fun when you were a teenager don’t look…don’t look professional.
No, that makes sense. Her number three rule is think twice before hitting reply all. Yeah, that one’s worth saying twice.
Yeah, I think we can…can we repeat that, like, four times? I just don’t get it, Susan, how many people don’t understand that. I mean, we all make mistakes sometimes and hit the wrong button, but oh my goodness.
…the number of reply alls.
One point in my career, I worked for a company that had over 250,000 people, and our CEO, this was years ago, but he wrote an email out to everyone, and then people started hitting reply all and commenting back, and then he wrote back and said, would please people stop hitting reply all. I laughed out loud when I saw it, and then they later fixed it so that people couldn’t respond when he sent things out, but in the early days, it was like, don’t be doing that. It’s funny. Number four. Be sure to use professional salutations. Number five, use an exclamation point sparingly. Okay, I am guilty of this one.
Well, in my research, I’ve seen that that is very common in women. I think it’s three to four times more likely for an exclamation point to come from a female than a male. I don’t know why, but I do it all the time, too.
It just feels so friendly to me. I know. But it probably is not reflecting myself as professional as I probably want to be.
Number, I think I’m up to number seven. Be culturally sensitive. And so that’s especially important if you’re dealing with people internationally or cross cultures to make sure that you don’t say anything that could be offensive. Number eight is reply to your emails. And especially, even if it’s sent to you by mistake, it’s really important to get back to the person let them know, hey, I’m not sure this was intended to me, but that just reading something and not responding, I think, is cruel. Proofread every message. Oh my, I’m a little guilty of this one too.
Sometimes I go back and I see what I wrote to someone, I think, oh, dear, I should have proofed that before it went. I’m missing a few important words in that sentence. Yeah. Add the email address last. And that’s the way, I think, to get around that proofreading.
Instead of just responding to the person and start writing, do your writing first and then address it so you don’t accidentally…
Right. That is really good advice that…I do try and do that as much as I can if I’m writing a new email. It’s when I’m replying that I get in trouble.
Yes. And then, you know, she didn’t put this in her list, but one that I would add that I think is really important is don’t blind copy other people, you know, unless, for some compliance reason in your company, you’ve got to blind copy auditing or something when you…when you write a email, but I do…I find that really bad form. Other tips that you might have, JoDee?
Well, I think one that I like…I like to send emails this way, and I like to get emails this way, where people use bullet points or numbers. I think when it’s a long paragraph, or if you have several questions in the email, that it’s easy for people to respond back to one question and not all the questions. But if you can bullet point or number out, put “respond by” or “response needed by,” just being very specific with people about what it is you’re asking them or what it is you’re sharing with them. So I think as…as clear as we can make it, the better.
I think you’re exactly right. Oh, I thought of one other thing I don’t like about emails, is when someone has a receipt attached to it and it pops up and asks you, you know…are you willing to send the receipt? I don’t know why I find that annoying. It’s like, are they sending the receipt because they don’t think I’m going to respond?
And I’m sure it’s not personal.
I think that’s very frustrating. And I…sometimes I think people don’t realize they have that on, that you can set up your email that…that that happens every time you send one. And because a couple people, just in the past several months, I’ve actually responded and said, “Do you realize you’re doing this?”, because I found it very annoying. So I did it for me and them. And one of them said, “You’re right. I didn’t realize I had it set up that way.”
That was a nice gift to give them.
Good. Well, good. Well, that really was the number one topic, but I’ll tell you the number two topic that we heard was office gossip, and this was defined a lot of different ways. I will tell you that Robert Half and Accountemps did a 2015 study that reported 28% of accounting office employees say office gossip is the biggest office etiquette offense that they are aware of. The same study reported that only 11% of CFOs say there is no breaches of office etiquette in their company. Now I’m thinking that…
Maybe they’re not in on the gossip.
Or the gossip is about them.
Oh, that’s…that could be. Right. Has that ever been a problem in workplaces you’ve been at, JoDee, where there’s just gossip and chitter chatter going around that people are finding very uncomfortable?
Yes, I think it’s somewhat common. I’m not surprised at the percentages, really, I…it happens, and hard to control, right? It’s hard to wrap arms around that and tell people what some people perceive as gossip but other people don’t. So it’s…it’s a fine line to draw there, but just encouraging people to be professional, I think, and…and certainly, when there’s confidential information that shouldn’t be shared with others, just to really think twice before sharing.
Very wise. Stephanie told us…Stephanie, who’s in Indiana, told us that she thinks office gossip can be detrimental to trust and wreaks havoc on team cohesiveness. She said, “Words cannot be unspoken.” Yeah, I think that’s heavy and true.
And then Chia from Connecticut wrote in to say, you know, go to lunch if you want to gossip. If you…or if you have to, wait until you leave the office entirely. No matter what, don’t do it while you’re sitting in open office space, as it can be toxic and really damage morale.
Right. Right. And you know, more and more offices are going to these open layout concepts that it…more people can hear than you think, I think, about…
That’s right. So…
…what you’re talking about.
So, very important to stay ever conscious, right, of what you’re saying.
So the third topic that came in hot and heavy was mobile device misuse. Heather from Indiana wrote and said people need to put their phones away when they are in meetings or talking to coworkers about work. It’s very distracting to all parties involved. So, how recently have you been in a meeting where people were checking their phone?
Yeah. You know, what’s interesting about that, too, is that I find more and more people, myself included, sometimes take notes on our phones. You know, I see even more people at church on their phones who are…or I hope they are…
Yeah, re…reading the readings, or I had a friend just last night who told me that she had gone to a study class where they recommended you bring a phone to take notes about the readings, during church, even. So I think if we’re doing it at events like that, that the office seems like nothing. I know sometimes I find myself telling people I’m taking notes.
I’m not texting…
Looking at my email.
….or emailing, right. And I’ve had people tell me that in training classes that they’re taking notes, so I…but I’m not disregarding the issue.
Right? I mean, it is rude when we’re working on something else when someone’s talking or when you’re trying to have a meeting and getting people to be present. I just think it’s going to get harder and harder to do that.
Well, I love the idea of people saying, okay, let’s clear the air. We’re going to have people on their phones, and let’s talk about why they’re on their phones. They’re going to be…I’ve asked them to take notes. Or someone says, hey…just like you do. Hey, please know I’m not checking emails or texting. I really am taking notes here. I think that’s just the good common courtesy.
Don’t leave people with the…if they leave it to their own imagination, they’re not going to be assuming that you’re doing something, you know, positive.
Reuters reported in 2013 on a Robert Half Technology survey, that 64% of their CIOs – or Chief Information Officers – felt that the increased use of mobile devices, including cell phones and tablets, has led to significant increases in breaches of workplace etiquette. So even the technology folks are saying it.
JoDee, I discovered there is a protocol school in Washington. And they have actually established a Bring Your Manners to Work Day.
Oh, interesting. I haven’t heard of that.
Instead of bringing your child, you bring your manners. Yeah. And they actually have developed some good cell phone etiquette tips. First of all, don’t “cell yell.” Don’t you love that?
You don’t…you turn your volume to normal inside voices, right? You don’t have to talk louder because you’re on the cell phone. Number two, respect people’s personal space while on the phone. A safe cell distance is considered to be 10 feet. We did hear a number of people who wrote in saying, “Why do people think it’s okay to pick up the cell phone in these open offices?” Or a lot of offices now are doing hotelling, so people just are planting themselves at different places. Why do they feel like it’s okay to pull out their cell phone and have a private conversation?
Right. And I have to admit, I’ve told people before who have mentioned that, I’ve said, well, why is it any different than me having a conversation with someone, but I think it goes back to point number one. We…It is said that we speak three times louder when we’re on a cell phone, so we don’t…I know for me, I didn’t realize that, that I’m actually talking louder than I would have just in…versus talking to the person next to me.
That’s great. And their number three tip is, don’t check your phone during meals and meetings. Instead, keep the phones on vibrate, pay attention to and engage with those around you, and then if you feel the vibration going, excuse yourself and leave the room if you need to.
Right. Right. Susan, by the way, Bring Your Manners to Work Day is celebrated the first Friday of September, and we’ll have to remember that.
It’s going on the calendar today.
Love it. Thank you.
The fifth topic on the list of office etiquette is related to hygiene issues. So what do we hear on this topic? Well, Gary from Virginia cited colleagues not washing their hands in the bathroom drives him nuts.
Oh, that makes me squeamish.
I know. That’s a tough one, too, when you’re when you’re in there and you see someone walk out who hasn’t done it, right?
It makes me not want to follow them. Right.
Right. And then Chris from Indiana says don’t eat at your desk. It is bad hygiene and bad for your mental health. Take a small break, eat, and don’t make everyone smell and hear your food. That, I think, again, can be a tough one. That’s…that goes back to these open concept office spaces, where there’s so many people around. I know I’ve, many times, eaten at my desk, and it can be an opportunity for…to build some office camaraderie, but maybe taking it out of the workspace, going to a kitchen area, going to a break room. As I’ve said before, I used to not be a fan of taking a break in the middle of the day. So many times, I would work straight through, but I’ve really discovered the power of taking a break and getting away from your desk.
I think that’s very smart. I seems like there’s just certain types of food that really kind of…that do not sit well for the rest of the day.
You know, usually I think it’s, like, onions or fish or some of the things I love to eat, but…
…probably save it for home.
Right. Cooking popcorn in the microwave.
It’s when they burn the popcorn that it really gets bad.
Right. Right. So on that same issue, Town and Country Office Cleaning has office hygiene etiquette advice on their website. They listed six items that we should consider. Number one, adopt a formal written workspace policy for hygiene. Include formal training sessions for employees at which they learn how to keep germs at bay and protect themselves from infection. Might sound a little much, but how simple would that be, right? Or especially if you’re already having a meeting or a discussion about a different topic, to just add a few minutes on that.
I love that. I…you know, especially in flu season, I think it’s a really good time to remind people about we want you here at work, we want you well, we don’t want you to catch something here and take it home. So maybe adding to a meeting agenda things about hand washing and about sanitizers that you make available in the workplace really is smart.
Right, right. download free hand washing posters from the internet and place them in restrooms, office kitchens, and break rooms. I’ve also seen great sneezing, coughing etiquette posters available on the web. Again, it might seem like something silly, but I think if…if you’re with someone in the restroom, for example, who might see a poster and think twice about washing their hands, it could be very helpful.
I was in a workplace one time where they had up in the restroom, you know…I think it’s you sing “Happy Birthday” twice, but by doing that all the way through, start to finish, that is enough to actually kill the germs on your hands. And most people don’t stand there that long washing their hands. I think it’s a good reminder.
Right. Installing hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the office and provide each employee with disinfecting wipes for cleaning desk and workstation areas. That’s a…also a simple thing to do. I know one thing…you mentioned flu season, and of course it’s been the worst flu season ever this year. I’ve tried to be more cognizant of wiping off my phone. I think in a day, how many times I hand my phone to someone else or show them a picture…even my own germs on it are enough, but as we pass those around, sometimes those…they say there’s more germs on our phones than there are in bathrooms.
And speaking again to the flu season, encourage your staff members to get a flu shot or request that a wellness provider offer the flu shot at your facility. Establish protocols that will allow employees to occasionally work from home when when they are sick, particularly if a fever is present. Obviously, they might not want to work if they have a fever, but…
Even after the fever has gone away, and they’ve felt better, and they can feel like they can take a little bit more time to be alone without spreading those germs back at the office.
You know, we’ve talked about that in other podcasts, about presenteeism, that there’s employees out there with really strong work ethic and they’re gonna do everything they can, crawling out of bed, crawling into the office to be there because they don’t want to let down the client. They don’t wanna let you down. So you really have to work in your culture about talking about the best gift you can give us is…when you’re sick is to stay home.
Right. Right. And their last piece of advice said, set a good example for your team by following these rules yourself. And I think that is addressed to every one of us, no matter what our title, what our position. We can each be role models for each other.
Fair enough. Well, good. Well, another topic that came in was loud talkers, and somewhat similar to people who are talking loud on their phones, but this is just people who are talking loud in the workplace. And we talked about how more and more offices are open office. The most recent stat I could find on that was in 2014, the International Facility Management Association said that 70% of offices had open layouts back then. So you can imagine 2018, four years later, I’m sure it’s many, many more.
So we heard complaints from a number of the people who wrote in saying that their coworkers just aren’t being sensitive to the fact that loud talking disturbs others’ ability to concentrate or to conduct business.
Yes. Dorie from New York said when she hears colleagues talking loudly, she often wants to stand up and say, “Get a conference room!” It reminds me of my husband, who walks into Starbucks, Panera, and similar places and sees wall to wall people working. He wants to shout, “Get an office!” It makes me laugh, as I am usually one of those workers who is paying rent one cup of coffee at a time.
That’s a fact. Amiee from Arizona said that loud talkers can also include coworkers who are talking on the phone without regard to others who are trying to concentrate and do the same. It’s especially irritating when they’re talking loudly on their cell phones or those personal calls we’ve mentioned and disrupting those around them.
Right. I’ve had many a discussion over the years where people came to me as the HR Director and said, can you please go talk to so-and-so about their loud talking, and I’ve tried to coach them on having that conversation directly versus me coming in to do it. But people are really uncomfortable. I tell you, it reminds me, Susan, back…it was probably in 1989 that a coworker of mine came to me and asked me to turn my radio down. You know, our younger listeners won’t even remember that people used to have radios at their desk, because we didn’t have Spotify and headphones and music on our cell phones and iTunes, all that. And I had no idea that…I don’t think I was playing it really loud, but her cubicle was connected to mine, and I just…it never dawned on me that that might be bothering someone else. And I was so embarrassed of that and really became conscientious of noise that I was creating. And unfortunately for her, I’m also a whistler, so not only was I playing my radio, but I was whistling along with the tunes.
I could fix you in there happily whistling away while you work. Oh, good for you. It’s nice that you responded the way you did and you didn’t take offense.
No, I was thankful.
Yeah, well, that’s great. That’s always the goal. Well, Jacqueline Smith of make Business Insider offered tips in a 2014 article entitled “How to Tactfully Tell a Noisy Coworker to Shut Up.” What she said is, first of all, it’s kind of like what you…the person did to you about the radio; take the coworker side, maybe over coffee or lunch, and ask if there’s anything that you could do to help make their work experience better. You know, they may give you an idea and you can act on it. If they say, oh, no, nothing, that then is your entree to share with them an idea you have about maybe turning down the volume of their conversations. The second tip she had is if you don’t feel brave enough to do that, bring it up at a team meeting or ask to do a pet peeve survey as part of your employee…employee engagement activities, and so if people aren’t pointing anybody out individually, the hope there is that someone in the group will recognize, hey, maybe I do this sometimes, I should stop. Third one is designate an official quiet zone. Or one thing that I’ve seen some offices do is they have certain quiet hours, so that…maybe it’s from 7:30 to nine in the morning, so people can come in, they can focus on their emails, they can do whatever they need to do, and then at nine o’clock all heck breaks loose.
Yeah, I love that concept of of quiet hours in offices. I think can be very powerful and very productive for people.
Yeah. Her next tip is you can use headphones. And of course most offices, especially with open office concepts or hotelling, people are issued their headphones. As long as you don’t amplify your voice, it makes a lot of sense. You’re not…people aren’t having to hear what other people are saying to you. And then it goes back to that “be a role model.” What it is you expect to see in the workplace, make sure that you’re…you’re exhibiting those behaviors. It’s…be the change in the world you want to see.
But, you know, Susan, I mentioned about people working from Starbucks, I also find with so many more people working on flexible schedules or working from home, that at times people are working in a Starbucks that I might be on the phone with, not realizing how much background noise there are in restaurants or wherever it is they might be working, to hear loud music in the background or to be…just to be very cognizant of that. And again, maybe the the need for them to step outside or to get away from that as well.
And sometimes I think it’s…it’s on our shoulders when we are talking to somebody and all that noise is going on. They may not realize it because they’ve been there for a while. They’ve kind of tuned it out. But maybe if you’re having a hard time concentrating, that it’s important that you just say, hey, you may not realize this, but it’s getting kind of hard to hear you.
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The next item on the list was dropping in uninvited. In 2014, The Harris Poll did a survey for Career Builder on unproductive activity in the workplace and found that 23% of respondents pointed to coworkers dropping by other employees’ offices, desks, or cubicles uninvited.
I am not surprised. I think that happens a lot and…and I know people who do it are trying…I believe they are trying to be social or they…they think, you know what, looks like Susan’s not too busy, let me just stop in and bounce this off of her. I get a kick out of it, though, because when people say they want to just bounce something off of you, generally it takes a lot longer than just a bounce of a ball.
Right. That’s…ET from Miami said his pet peeve is people who drop by the office without asking if the time is good. I personally would add to that, sometimes people ask if the time is good, but then they don’t really listen to your answer. They stay and…
…and ask the question or…or tell a story regardless. And that’s…Lori from Arizona is irked when people swing by her office and ask for, quote, “just five minutes,” unquote. And once they start talking, you know, it is not a five minute conversation. She also laments when people see her walking in her office and follow her, start talking business before she even takes her coat off, puts her purse away, turns on her computer, and settles in for the day.
And you know, my guess is the people that are doing that, they’ve got something weighing on them, and they feel really pressured, and they just want to grab Lori or grab ET. But we’ve got to check ourselves and give the person some space. Maybe that’s when you say, I can see you’re walking in, do you have any time for me today? When can I swing back?
Right. I think it’s important for us to be able to respond to those questions when someone says, do you have five minutes, or comes up and starts telling a story, for us to be able to respond, could you come back at 10 o’clock or two o’clock, or could we go to lunch today and talk about this, or….and let people know that it’s not a good time for us, but not avoid them either. You know, we can still set a time, or…and then they might decide, well, it’s really not all that important, or yes, I do want to talk to you and 10 o’clock would be great.
Sure. And Lori, if you don’t have your calendar up yet, then I think you should feel comfortable saying I need 10 minutes get bring my calendar up.
Let me call you with my…my availability today.
It’s easy to get hijacked if you don’t hold firm.
Well, good. Well, the next topic is conference call behaviors. So I’ve seen some funny videos on this, conference calls gone awry. So Mary from Texas finds it irritating when on a conference call people neglect to identify themselves, especially when there’s lots of people on the call and the people don’t really know each other and they certainly don’t recognize their voices. That used to happen to me quite a bit, because I worked for a large company and I was always based in Indianapolis, and so I would get on team calls with people, many of them would be in a room in New York or Chicago or Milwaukee or wherever, and they all could see who was talking, and then I would pipe up once in a while. And then at the end of the call, I don’t know who said they would take this or take that, because no one said the names out loud.
What Mary suggests is that not only should you introduce yourself when you come on the call, but each time you make a comment or ask a question, and that could be as simple as, you know, this is Mary, and I’d be glad to take that item C on the list.
So Patty in Indiana wrote in and said, don’t use your speakerphone feature when you’re on a teleconference unless you’re in a private office or conference ro…room, because it can be so distracting for your neighbors.
So if you don’t have a door, don’t do it. Right? Time for the headphones. What advice do you have, JoDee?
I think more and more people are using video calls on Skype, Google, Zoom, AnyMeeting, so that people can see each other and be more engaged, and it also puts a little pressure to not multitask while you’re on the phone, as well, too, and I really like that. I feel much more engaged when I’m able to look at people. I know we use the tool Zoom, and when someone is talking, it automatically…I don’t even know how it does it, but it puts their face. It puts the person speaking’s face up on the screen for everyone. So you’re very focused on the person who is talking and sharing and I think that’s really good.
I do too. The other thing about teleconferences is, I think it’s really important, we talked about this in our meetings podcast, but you really treat it as a meeting. Sometimes on teleconferences, things can go kind of…get kind of relaxed and casual and you want to make sure that you’re being really observant of your time and your agenda and not let it drift.
Right. Right. The next item on the list…we could probably do a whole podcast on this one, Susan, is social media at work.
I know, lots of issues around this one. Diana from New York questions the need some folks have to check social media during the work day and shares the constant barrage of negative information blowing through some sites. It is hard to stay focused on work.
It can be a rabbit hole, really, especially if there’s anything happening in the world on a particular day and people are getting worked up. Yeah, I…Diana, I feel your pain.
Right. And Bill from Texas said seeing someone doing things not related to work, like checking Facebook or Snapchat and other social media sites, during the workday can bring morale down when you feel like they are goofing off and you are working.
Seems to me that a lot of the businesses that I work with, that they have asked people not to go on social media, at least during work hours, that they’re fine during the breaks or in the lunchroom. But have you seen that or…very often in the employee handbooks that you’ve put together, your team at Purple Ink has put together?
Not a whole lot, really, and I actually…I think…I find that interesting. Now, I know one of our clients, they, as a company, do a lot of advertising and work on social media sites that they want their employees to repost or share, but yet, they’ve banned that site from the office. And so I think that’s kind of a disconnect. Right? I know at Purple Ink, we do a lot of work on social media, and we are asking our people to share. Now I also understand that when you go out, you might go onto social media for a work purpose and then get caught up in it, right? Then we start looking at what our friends are doing or what the neighbors doing and we get caught up out there, but it certainly is a work tool, as well. Right? LinkedIn especially…
…is…is viewed as a business tool, so.
Well, let me ask you, JoDee, since we’re on the subject of etiquette. What do you do if your boss asks to friend you on Facebook? Or at LinkedIn…I mean, I’d be perfectly comfortable with colleagues or bosses or anyone, because as you say, it’s a business tool. But how about Facebook or Snapchat, Instagram, any of those?
Yeah, it’s awkward, right? For the most part, I know I try not to friend employees or clients, but many times they friend me, and then I feel awkward not accepting. So I think it’s awkward. It can be awkward both ways. Right? If…if you get it from your boss, or if you get it from colleague or client. I don’t know what the right answer is to that, because it seems worse to not connect with them than to do it.
You know, I…if I had to give a tip to someone, on LinkedIn, I think it’s terrific. If you know the person and you like them, I absolutely would connect. But on Facebook, I think it’s absolutely acceptable to say, you know, I’m not really big on Facebook, I’m not really good at it, I don’t get out there very often, if they ever ask you. And I think there’s enough people that that is true for that you can let that invitation ride, be my guess.
Right. I agree.
Thank you for being my friend on Facebook, JoDee. I know we are friends.
I do get the question many times about LinkedIn. People have asked me if I accept all invitations on LinkedIn. And of course 30% of Purple Ink business is recruiting, so I…for me, I accept most all of them. I am…seems like recently, I’ve been getting some strange ones that I haven’t accepted, but because it’s a big part of our business to connect with a broad network of people, I personally do accept most of them. That’s not necessarily my advice for everyone, though. I’m not…I’m not suggesting that that’s important for all people, but I personally do accept most. What about you, Susan?
I only accept someone if I know them and I like them. And usually…just a few people…if you’re…if you’re listening. I’m sure you’re not. I like most people, but there, that would be my slice, my cut. If I don’t know you at all, I don’t. If someone wants to introduce us, and I have a conversation with you, terrific. But I hope that when someone asks me, oh, I see that you know so-and-so at XYZ company, I want to be able to say, yes, sure, may I introduce you to them. So, that’s just me, but obviously, I’m not, you know, growing up my business, so makes a difference.
So JoDee, we did have a list of a variety of other types of etiquette issues that we heard from people, and let me just go through these pretty quickly, because these were primarily, you know, one or two people who brought them up. The first one was…oh, this one just really makes me cringe and I’ve never done this, but it does…does make…gives me the willies. People clipping their fingernails in the office.
Ew, I know.
I would just say on that one, totally inappropriate.
What are you thinking? Yeah. Number two, clicking chewing gum. Now, I do love chewing gum, I hope I’m not clicking it, but yeah, get that one. Number three, pointless meetings without agendas.
We have a whole podcast on that.
Yes, we do. And then this last one, which I have seen happen over and over and over again, I wish I could solve for it. It is people who are running teleconferences not being sensitive to timezone differences. You know, I can’t tell you how many East Coast headquartered company meetings that I have seen start at eight o’clock am and we have people all over the country, so our west coast colleagues were having to be up and ready at five in the morning, and I just…it always made me really sad. Now, I’ve always been…either been an East Coast or Central Time Zone, so I could always manage, but I always felt bad for people in California.
Right. And people…I hope, at least…not that this is good either, but I hope that people just aren’t even thinking about it, right, as opposed to intentionally setting them at that time to irritate other people, but by not even thinking about it is maybe just as inappropriate. So.
Yeah, fair enough.
Another topic that didn’t come up in our survey, but is animals in the workspace. I know that it is becoming more and more common for people to bring their dogs to work. Maybe some other animals as well, but I suspect dogs is probably…cats I don’t think are making too much noise or too many distractions, although I have to say that I’m allergic to cats and there’s a store that I really love to shop in, but the owner many times brings her cat in there, which of course is her…
She loves that cat more than you, JoDee.
I think so. And I applaud her for being a business owner who has…can bring her animal to work. But at times, I want to tell her that is discouraging me from going in there.
And I know I spent the majority of my life not being comfortable around dogs, and now I have two dogs that I love, but I have to remind myself that not everyone feels that way.
So I wonder, what type of suggestions do you have when there is a dog in the workplace and somebody is uncomfortable by it?
It’s awkward. I know, I think when I was the one that was uncomfortable, good or bad, I think I…my visible reaction to the dog was a pretty good sign that I was not comfortable with it.
Right. That many times…or when everyone in the room was petting the dog but me…that I’ve tried to be aware of that. I know sometimes when I work from home, it seems like my dogs will sleep all day long, and then I get on the phone with someone and they’ll start barking at a squirrel running outside, which is also awkward, right? I mean, I would encourage people to be in a quiet room and separated, but I know that doesn’t always happen with me, either.
Sure. I do think that if you know that you’ve got dogs in the background and you’re on a teleconference, it’s smart to let people know, you know what, my dog, very well, we may hear from him, if we do, I’m going to be on mute. I’ll move to mute…mute quickly.
And then if people are coming into an office place where there’s an animal, I do think it makes sense to give some forewarning to people to say, hey, you know what, we do have animals that will be here. If you have any concerns, let me know so that we can set them aside.
Right, right. Mute is…definitely should be our friend around dogs or kids or…
…working from home when the doorbell might ring.
No, fair enough. Yeah, I have a fear of dogs, so my first reaction is I’m gonna have a hard time concentrating unless I get really, really comfortable with that dog.
So JoDee, what I have heard from a number of people, especially about workplaces that have more flexible comings and goings and lunches and so on and so forth, that employees who really honor their flexible work schedule, maybe they have to be in by nine, as long as they are there by nine they can leave at six or after, or whatever the arrangement happens to be, that they watch other employees take advantage of flexible work options, and they may drift in late, they may go to long lunches, they may leave early. And I know that from an etiquette standpoint, that some employees watching that…others do that can really make them feel like that’s rude or it’s bad for them or they’re…they’re letting the team down.
Do you hear about that type of a workplace issue very often?
Yes. And sometimes I think it’s direct effect, right? That if you’re filling in for the receptionist, right, who is coming back late, and actually taking her place, then I think that’s just plain rude and definitely a conversation should be had about that. On the other hand, sometimes if you just are watching peers come in an hour late or whatever, that…maybe sometimes that’s none of our business.
We might not know what discussions have been had with them and the boss or the supervisor.
On…the third point would be if you are the boss or the supervisor or the leader and holding people accountable to that, I think when…when nothing is said, people gain a sense of confidence around that nobody cares what time I come back, or nobody cares how long I’m at lunch.
Sure. And of course, we get into the whole exempt, non-exempt status. If somebody is non-exempt and they need to fill a timecard, then you really have to hold them accountable to the time they’re there and the time they leave, that all of it’s recorded. If somebody is exempt, you know, if they work any part of a day, they’re going to get paid for that whole day. But it becomes sort of a…I think, a respectful thing for that exempt person to not flaunt it and to be, you know, so visibly late or leave so visibily early, unless there’s other things going on. They aren’t…they aren’t managed to a time clock, for sure. But it’s just respectful, and teams, you know, they…everybody does notice what other people do. So use good etiquette there.
So, JoDee, we’ve got a listener question that came in today. It came in from Charlene in Massachusetts. “How do I handle it when my boss has double standards for what he expects out of different people in the same role? I feel that because I do a really good job, more is expected out of me. I know I outwork and outperform my colleagues, so it doesn’t feel fair to me when new department challenges come along my boss pulls me in to do the heavy lifting. I don’t get paid any more than my coworkers, so what is the point? When I have tried surfacing the topic with my boss, he says he gives the work to me because he knows it will get done right. I’m starting to resent my boss and my coworkers. What should I do?”
Well, I had a couple thoughts on this, Charlene. Number one, I think you say you tried surfacing the topic with your boss. I would be inclined to counsel or coach you to schedule a meeting with your boss and speak very directly about this topic and about why it bothers you and what you think happens. On the other hand, I encourage you to be proud of yourself, right, that…that your boss does see you as someone who will get it done. Another option, too, might be to specifically suggest someone else to do a particular project that you know is effective in that particular skill set or role or has those strengths or talents, to say…maybe your boss just finds it really easy to always pull you in on it because he…he’s thinking you’ll always get it done. But if you said at times, hey, Jim is really effective in this particular skill, would you consider asking him to do it, or could I ask Jim to do it if that is appropriate as well, and maybe that’ll start him thinking about asking someone else.
I love that, JoDee, and maybe you even want to say, how about I mentor Jim on this one, you know, what…how about Jim and I do it, because, boss, you know, I know you want a team that’s as really strong and as good as can be, so how about this next one, I do it with Jim and…so that you’ll have more of us who can really nail these types of projects.
Right. Love that.
Our in the news topic today, effective on January 1, 2018, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires employers relegated by the department to conduct opioid testing. The rule applies to commercial motor vehicle drivers, flight crew and other aviation-related workers, railroad employees, transit workers, certain pipeline employees, and marine employees regulated by the U.S. Coast Guard. This action is reflective of the growing opioid epidemic or prescription drug abuse. Many employers include drug testing as part of the drug free workplace policies and may or may not have included opioids without prescriptions on their screening list. It makes sense to…or at least annually look at your policy and practices to make sure you’re staying compliant with federal, state, and local laws.
I think that is such strong and good advice, that employee handbooks, really, at least once a year, should be looked at to make sure that…something may have changed federally like this, but also there can be local laws that are changing that affect employment, so take a look annually.
I always think the drug testing is interesting, too. I mean, some companies don’t do drug testing at all, but many companies only do drug testing when an employee starts. So there could be employees who haven’t had a drug test for 5, 10, or 15 years, and this opioid epidemic is crazy. I know that Indiana is one of the worst, we have one of the highest rates in the whole country, so anything we can do to help…help prevent that and to help employees with that issue is positive.
So, hey, please tune in next time. Thank you for listening today. If you’ve missed any of our podcasts. You can catch all episodes for free at iTunes, Google Play, or Podbean by searching on the word “JoyPowered.” If you have any questions on HR topics, or maybe an etiquette item that irks you, you can call us at 317-688-1613 or give feedback on our podcast via our JoyPowered® Facebook account or on Twitter @JoyPowered. We welcome listener questions and comments.
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