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Gen Z: bad office etiquette might be holding you back at work

Sawdah Bhaimiya   

Gen Z: bad office etiquette might be holding you back at work
  • Gen Z workers are often criticized for not practicing good workplace etiquette.
  • Myka Meier, an etiquette expert, said this could hinder their career progression.

Good workplace etiquette — from being mindful about how you present yourself to the kind of foods you eat for lunch — could be essential to your career progression, according to an etiquette expert.

Myka Meier is the founder of Beaumont Etiquette, which offers business etiquette courses to companies and individuals and teaches soft skills like communication, dining etiquette, professional development, dressing, and grooming.

In a recent interview with Business Insider, Meier shared the common etiquette mistakes people make at work and advice on addressing these issues.

"If you are not practicing good etiquette, your career, in my opinion, will not progress half as fast as if you are practicing good workplace etiquette," Meier told BI.

Gen Z is still learning about office etiquette

Gen Z is new to the workplace and still learning the ins and outs of office etiquette after studying remotely during the pandemic.

The youngest generation at work has gotten flak from older colleagues for dressing inappropriately on the job to being too open on social media.

Meier advises these young professionals to educate themselves on office etiquette by reading books on the subject.

"I didn't grow up with etiquette, and I took it upon myself to educate myself when I realized that there was an issue when I didn't know certain protocols and people were reacting badly to me," she said.

Certain etiquette rules are timeless, she said. These include arriving early for meetings, dressing professionally, and eating with good manners.

But the No. 1 rule is showing respect to other people, she added.

"It's all about social intelligence. You could be the smartest person in the room, but if your EQ is not up to par, then you probably still have a lot to work on," she said.

Meier shared a famous story about Walt Bettinger, the CEO of Charles Schwab, who would take out job interview candidates to eat to "see how they interacted at the dinner table," Meier said.

"Did they treat the servers well? Because if not, that's how they are going to treat their team.

"Could they eat a meal correctly and respectfully to the other people around the table? Because that's how they are going to be eating in front of a client. That was his test," she said.

We've forgotten how to act at work

Meier said that demand for her courses is at an all-time high since the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as some workers have forgotten how to conduct themselves in the office.

It's not just obvious offenses like eating a smelly lunch and dressing too casually. Several major companies, including KPMG and Deloitte, have said their newest recruits also lack important soft skills due to taking virtual classes in college.

This includes struggling with making eye contact, collaborating with colleagues in the office, and presenting in person.

"There are some business practices and standards that will remain business practices and standards in certain industries, and Gen Z will need to conform to some of those to be successful in those specific fields," Meier added.

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