Etiquette classes are coming to more than 60% of companies in 2024—and it’s not just Gen Z that needs lessons in how to make eye contact


After years of working from home in their pajamas and without the company of colleagues during the pandemic, employees have seemingly forgotten how to act in an office environment. 

That, at least, is according to employers who are slapping workers with return-to-office mandates only to find that their workers aren’t quite office-ready. Apparently, a sizable chunk of workers are awkwardly staring at their peers and still dressing as if they are working from their sofa. 

As a result, over 60% of U.S. companies will enlist the help of etiquette training companies to teach their employees how to dress appropriately for the office, interact with clients, and respect shared spaces in 2024, Resume Builder’s recently updated survey of over 1,500 leaders found.

Making polite conversation was top of the list of lessons being requested by bosses, followed closely by dressing professionally and writing professional emails. 

Even how to take an appropriate lunch break and make eye contact correctly is on the agenda, according to Resume Builder.  

“There’s a lot of miscommunication on what’s appropriate for the office, so implementing a plan and executing it will put everyone on the same page,” one respondent explained their motivation behind forcing workers to go to office etiquette classes.

“There were increasing complaints of a hostile work environment and complaints from patrons about the behavior of certain employees,” another added.

So far, so good: The poll found that two-thirds of companies that have already put on etiquette classes say they’ve been “highly” successful.

Not just for Gen Z 

Although many of the skills being taught seem like common knowledge, standards have apparently slipped since the pandemic.

Understandably, Gen Z—who missed out on valuable in-person work experience during the pandemic—is struggling in the shift from virtual to hybrid working. 

Take the world’s Big Four consulting firms, for example. Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, and EY are all offering incoming junior hires soft skills training, including lessons on how to speak up in meetings.

Likewise, Alex Mahon, the boss of a major British TV channel Channel 4 complained that the youngest generation to enter the workforce doesn’t have the skills to debate, disagree, or work alongside people with different opinions.

It’s why even colleges are stepping up to close the social skills gap between their students and the wider workforce. Michigan State University is getting its graduates ready for the job market with lessons on how to handle a networking conversation. Meanwhile, students in Japan are being taught how to smile again after getting accustomed to hiding behind face masks.

However, while Gen Z often gets the flak for being unaware of how to behave in a professional environment, only 10% of those planning to offer classes say the training will be required specifically for Gen Z and fresh-faced grads, according to Resume Builder’s survey.

Interestingly, 60% will require training for all employees, including baby boomer workers who had accumulated decades of in-office experience before the pandemic. 

“We initially implemented the training program as part of the onboarding process for all new hires,” Young Pham, the co-founder of the marketing and e-commerce new platform, Bizreport told Resume Builder.

“We quickly realized, however, that office etiquette training is beneficial for all employees, regardless of experience level or position. As a result, we expanded the program to include all employees, allowing us to reinforce our company’s values and foster a collaborative work environment.”

Although in many ways, workers are being asked to return to the old ways of working—at a desk in an office for a set period—the office still isn’t quite what it used to be. So even old dogs are having to learn new tricks and adapt to “new ways of interacting” in the new hybrid world of work, Pham added.

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