Professionalism In The Workplace

A Quick Guide To Professionalism In The Workplace


Young people who are fresh from college and entering their first real employment situation often need a guide to attaining professionalism in the workplace.  A work environment is quite a bit different from the laid back college atmosphere, so a short tutorial on proper behavior and mannerisms may be called for to initiate the young new employee into the corporate world.

What It Is


The definition of professionalism is “the conduct or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person” (Merriam-Webster dictionary).  This definition indicates that, if each individual acted with professionalism within a workplace, they would be performing their tasks with genuine earnest and honesty.  In doing so, decisions can be made logically, which is the very basis of establishing a good work environment. Concentration is on quality of service and work, which leads to a successful business.

How To Achieve It


Professionalism does not occur by accident.  Rather, it is a concerted effort by all within the workplace to provide the utmost of their ability each and every day.  Although it is highly desirable, it is rarely achieved.  Without this type of environment, employees will not be motivated or feel that they are part of a successful end result.  It also often leads to unethical behavior in the workplace as well as a high turnover rate in employees.

Knowing this, it is evident that achieving a level of professionalism in the workplace should be a primary goal.  Management should set certain criteria that would be necessary for all employees to attain:


  • Dress
  • Communication
  • Awareness
  • Etiquette




It has long been recognized that those who dress professionally will behave in the same manner; simply stated, act according to your attire.  Swimwear indicates you will be swimming, pajamas indicate you will be sleeping, professional attire indicates you will be professional.  Wearing provocative clothing will certainly send the wrong messages to your co-workers, as will inappropriate dress wear.  Acceptable dress should be clearly identified and communicated to all employees, who must then abide by such expectations.




There should be clear and precise methods of communication between employees as well as with management.  If management deems it appropriate for senior administrators to be addressed by first name, then it is acceptable.  However, it should be made clear to employees who may be addressed by titles such as sir, ma’am and such, as well as when it is appropriate to address by first name.




When specific rules and procedures are to be observed within the workplace, these mandates must be made clear to all employees.  To achieve professionalism in the workplace on all levels, everyone must know what is to be expected of them.  For example, if personal phone calls or use of computers for personal use is strictly prohibited, each individual must be told specifically of these rules.  In return, it is vital that, when employees are told of the rules, they obey them to the letter.  Respecting management by abiding by the rules is a must for professional behavior.  Generally, company policies are provided to new employees at the time of hire; becoming familiar with and adhering to those policies lend a great deal to the development of a professional workplace.


One area in which it is helpful to be aware of office policy is in advancement of one’s status within the company.  Knowing how to advance your career and what steps should be taken can help you to design your path within the company, and also keep you from suffering disappointment over erroneous expectations.  Most often, it is those employees who continually exhibit their professionalism on the job that are promoted to higher positions.




Each workplace has different views on proper office etiquette.  One basic rule that all should abide by is to respect your fellow employee as well as management.  Other common sense rules of etiquette are consideration, politeness and honesty.  A “please” and “thank you” go a long way in establishing a good working relationship with your co-workers and supervisors.


It is difficult in close quarters such as cubicle environments to not be aware of personal issues within the workplace.  However, as much as possible, it is important to not allow other employees to know your personal business or for you to know theirs.  It is also important not to downgrade or bash the management of the firm for which you work, as office gossip moves faster than a rushing waterfall and will soon reach the ears of those in a supervisory position.  This type of gossip is not only detrimental to the work ethic between employees, but also can place one’s job in danger.  An employee will quickly lose his/her aura of professionalism by being the target of or a participant in office gossip.


Performing with professionalism in the workplace is a sure way of quickly establishing your goals within the company for which you are employed.  Becoming familiar with the company’s expectations of you can help you to exhibit your particular skills and talents that have made you the professional that you are, and help you to become a valued member of the company.