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Organizations that embrace more casual workplaces have a competitive edge in recruitment

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June 26, 2024
By Talent Canada


The rules and etiquette of workplaces are shifting to align with the times and desires of employees, and companies that provide a more casual workplace have a competitive edge, according to a newly released Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll survey.

Two-thirds of Canadian hiring decision-makers (65 per cent) say workplace etiquette that was unacceptable three years ago is now acceptable.

Around two in five companies say it was important five years ago to have dress code guidelines (43 per cent) and to adhere to that dress code (40 per cent), but only about one-quarter feel this holds true today (27 per cent and 25 per cent, respectively).

Employers also say it is less crucial today to refrain from taking personal calls at work (32 per cent today, compared to 38 per cent five years ago) and utilize formal business communications (28 per cent compared to 36 per cent five years ago).

However, some workplace practices have increased in importance in the post-pandemic workplace. Among the leading workplace practices that have seen greater need for adherence: arriving at work and meetings on time (69 per cent compared to 58 per cent five years ago), keeping a clean workspace (62 per cent compared to 51 per cent five years ago) and greeting coworkers (52 per cent compared to 46 per cent five years ago).

As workplace culture and etiquette evolves, half of hiring decision-makers (51 per cent) say it is confusing for employees to know what is and is not acceptable because so much has changed.

The job seeker’s perspective

The vast majority of Canadian job seekers (83 per cent) believe a more casual workplace contributes to higher-performing employees. This sentiment is highest with Millennials (90 per cent) and Gen Z (82 per cent), compared to Gen X (74 per cent) and Boomers (79 per cent).

Like Canadian hiring decision-makers, two-thirds of job seekers (65 per cent) agree that workplace etiquette that was unacceptable five years ago is acceptable now.

Job seekers say having a dress code is less important now (33 per cent) than five years ago (54 per cent). In addition, refraining from personal calls at work is no longer seen as important (43 per cent compared to 56 per cent five years ago), as is using formal business communication (36 per cent compared to 53 per cent five years ago).

Job seekers also agree that some workplace behaviours have become more important in the past five years, such as arriving on time for work and meetings (78 per cent compared to 68 per cent five years ago), keeping a tidy workspace (64 per cent compared to 60 per cent five years ago) and greeting coworkers (63 per cent compared to 56 per cent five years ago).

“In a tight labour market, perks like a more casual dress code are simple to implement and can have a significant impact on recruiting and retention,” said Bill Stoller, Express Employment International CEO. “Some values, however, like punctuality and workspace cleanliness should remain important to respect colleagues’ valuable time and mutual space.”

The Job Insights survey was conducted online within Canada by The Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals between Oct. 31 and Nov. 10, 2023, among 504 Canadian hiring decision-makers.

The Job Seeker survey was conducted online within Canada by the Harris Poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals from Nov. 9-26, 2023, among 509 Canadian adults ages 18 and older.


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