Professionalism is acting in accordance with common norms of professional etiquette, behaviours and responsibilities for your profession. Though professionalism is generally regarded as a positive attribute for an employee, high standards of professional expectations and conduct can produce some potentially unwanted effects in a workplace.
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A work trait often seen as conflicting with high standards of professional conduct is creativity. Advertising creative departments and design students often have very relaxed work environments and casual dress codes so as to not inhibit the creativity of artists and designers. Creative people usually want a non-restrictive, loosely structured work environment as creativity is typically enhanced with fewer boundaries and rules.
Companies that maintain a high standard of professionalism must often invest in ongoing training and development for employees. Additionally, hiring candidates into a workplace with strict professional expectations likely means you have to pay more to get top talent. While the net result of what you produce may increase significantly, the costs of hiring and developing professionals is greater than those incurred by more casual workplaces.
Defining professionalism precisely and developing a professional code of conduct for your organisation is challenging. Company leaders and employees may have varying concepts of professional behaviour. Developing a generally accepted professional standards code and having it consistently enforced by all managers is difficult. Micromanaging professional behaviour may also contribute to an environment where employees feel oppressed and unable to act with independent thoughts and behaviours.
For both employees and work cultures, stress levels can become heightened when strict adherence to professional conduct is customary. Employees who work to build and maintain a professional reputation typically must put more time into dress, etiquette, communication and other professional behaviours. Constant awareness of the need to be a professional can cause stress for the employee. Overemphasis on professionalism in the workplace can lead to tense relationships, infighting and difficulty in teamwork.
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