Gen Z gets schooled on office etiquette

Companies, universities and recruiters are finding new ways to sharpen recent graduates' interpersonal and professional skills as they enter in-person workplaces, The Wall Street Journal reported June 16. 

Gen Zers spent a large chunk of their college years social distancing, taking virtual classes and internships during the brunt of COVID-19. Since they rarely had in-person mentors and experiences, they missed out on learning "soft skills" like how to dress professionally, present a project or even make small talk in the elevator. 

Additionally, since professors were more lenient with extensions during the pandemic, some new hires have been surprised by workplaces' strict adherence to deadlines. 

To bridge the gaps between what young workers know and what older ones expect, many organizations are offering classes and trainings that educate on office norms. Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, hosts an etiquette dinner for students before they graduate, giving advice like "eat at senior leaders' pace" and "put butter on your plate before your roll." Warner Bros. Discovery gives interns a presentation on office dynamics, like dress codes and interpersonal relations. And at the accounting firm KPMG, new hires get trained to handle conflict within teams and introduce themselves to clients and colleagues; many of them are stiff, speak too quickly or rely on filler words like "um," according to the firm. 

However, students who crave these interactions are willing to learn the appropriate mannerisms, according to the Journal. An April survey from virtual student health company TimelyCare found that 53 percent of this year's graduating class would prefer fully in-person work; only 21 percent want to be fully remote.

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