How to Show Professionalism in the Modern Workplace

Skills and experience are important to employers — but equally as important are employees who are reliable, tactful, and professional. Appearance, behavior, and reputation, especially in client-facing positions, can make or break a job interview or promotion.

With the increase of virtual and remote working, professionalism is still important in the modern workplace, online and in person. As our culture evolves, how do you maintain individuality and demonstrate professionalism in the workplace?

Professionalism in the Modern Workplace

Studies have shown that employees who can demonstrate professionalism in the modern workplace are often seen as more competent and valuable than their counterparts.

In today’s age, rules cannot be broadly applied to all workplaces like the generic suit and ties of the 1950s office life. From casual dress codes to flexible work hours, offices of the 21st century are changing rapidly — and with them, the definition of professionalism in the modern workplace.

Whether it is a minimum wage job or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, there is no excuse for unprofessional behavior. Regardless of career path, age, or experience, professionalism can always take you far in your career development.

Defining Professionalism

Professionalism is more than just one trait or skill you can quickly teach in a workshop. It can also vary by industry, country, or even from office to office. This vague term is difficult to define but is easy to demonstrate and learn.

Merriam Webster defines professionalism as “the conduct, aims, or qualities that characterize or mark a profession or a professional person.” This includes some subjective qualities, such as the way you carry yourself, your attitude with your coworkers, and the way you communicate your needs to others.

From client meetings to email correspondence, professionalism is simply how you conduct yourself at work and, ultimately, how you represent the company. It can be any combination of traits, skills, behaviors, and good judgment expected.

Sometimes professionalism is directly stated in an employee handbook, while other times it is seen across office culture.

Professionalism also extends to the online world and social media. Many companies encourage their employees to be active and open on social media, but those same opinions can also be an unprofessional representation of a company and cause issues at work.

“Professionalism is someone’s inherent ability to do what is expected of them and deliver quality work because they are driven to do so,” Eric Mochnacz, Red Clover HR consultant, said.

Some qualities of professionalism in the modern workplace across most industries include:

  • Organization
  • Dedication
  • Respect
  • Ethical
  • Reliability
  • Communication
  • Expertise
  • Competence
  • Integrity
  • Composed
  • Humility
  • Accountability
  • Consideration

Why Does Professionalism Matter?

When you are hired by a company, you are a representation of that company throughout your meetings and communications. Employers are looking for professional, dependable employees, especially when it comes to new hires, promotions, and important project leads.

In fact, professionalism is one of the biggest factors in career success over time. And, unfortunately, a lack of professionalism can leave you overlooked for promotions, or worse, on the chopping block for layoffs.

When professionalism is valued across an organization, the majority of employees will follow by example and behave similarly. Also, a company with a reputation for professionalism across its staff will lead to an increase in brand reputation, too.

Being professional is in everyone’s best interest. Those with professional behavior are often rewarded with better opportunities, such as increased salaries and more trust from management.

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