Business Hugs Versus Handshakes

Survey Shows More Professionals Apt to Greet Colleagues with Open Arms

Toronto, ON -- To hug or not to hug? Many professionals ponder this question when greeting or bidding farewell to colleagues. And new research from staffing firm The Creative Group suggests that hugging among coworkers is more popular. More than half (54 per cent) of advertising and marketing executives surveyed said this practice is at least somewhat common, up from 30 per cent five years ago.

It’s a different story when it comes to meeting clients, however: More than three-quarters (77 per cent) of respondents said business hugs are rarely, if ever, appropriate in this context, up one point from 2011.

“While more hugging may be an indication that professionals are embracing open working environments, bear in mind that not everyone will be receptive to business hugs,” said Deborah Bottineau, senior regional manager of The Creative Group. “It is important to consider in what context hugging is appropriate, do your best to read the environment, and when in doubt, offer a handshake instead.”

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, “In general, how common is it for you to greet the following individuals with a hug instead of a handshake?” Their responses:

Coworker

Client/Business Contact

2016

2011

2016

2011

Very common if you know the individual well or it has been a while since you have seen him or her

10%

7%

5%

3%

Somewhat common if you know the individual well or it has been a while since you have seen him or her

44%

23%

17%

21%

Not common at all; hugging is rarely appropriate in a business setting

22%

57%

33%

61%

Never; hugging is not appropriate in a business setting

23%

13%

44%

15%

Don’t know

1%

0%

2%

0%

100%

100%

101%*

100%

*Responses do not total 100 per cent due to rounding.

The Creative Group offers three tips for greeting business contacts with grace:

  1. Master the handshake. A firm handshake is a safe bet as it’s a standard greeting in many parts of the world -- and one that isn’t apt to offend.
  2. Go in the right order. If you’re meeting with a group of people, exchange pleasantries with new contacts before those you already know. Also, make a point to introduce junior-ranking employees to senior-level staff.
  3. Avert awkwardness. Not a fan of business hugs? Protect your personal space by extending your hand early when approaching colleagues to signal your preference.

About the Research

The survey was developed by The Creative Group and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 400 U.S advertising and marketing executives.

About The Creative Group

The Creative Group (TCG) specializes in placing a range of highly skilled interactive, design, marketing, advertising and public relations professionals with a variety of firms on a project and full-time basis. More information, including online job-hunting services and candidate portfolios, can be found at thecreativegroup.ca. Follow TCG’s blog and @RobertHalf_CAN on Twitter for additional workplace news and hiring trends.

For further information contact: Naz Araghian, (416) 865-2140, [email protected]

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