Workplace Etiquette 2020: Survey Shows Canadian Employers Feel Foul Language, Pets Biggest Office Offenses; Non-Traditional Piercings Are Okay

90% of managers say workplaces are less formal than 10 years ago

Toronto, ON — New research from global staffing firm Accountemps reveals some do’s and don’ts for today’s workplace. While nearly all senior managers surveyed in Canada (90 per cent) said organizations have loosened up over the past decade, certain behaviours are still frowned upon, the most common being using foul language (55 per cent), bringing pets to the office (51 per cent) and displaying political décor (47 per cent). But about one-third of companies are now more tolerant of employees donning non-traditional piercings (34 per cent), visible tattoos, casual attire and non-traditional hair colours (all tied at 32 per cent).

Managers who said the workplace has become more relaxed cited looser societal standards (65 per cent) and companies catering to younger professionals (54 per cent) as the top reasons for the shift.

View a data table on modern workplace etiquette rules.

Additional findings:

  • Twenty-seven per cent of employers said using casual language or emojis in emails is more acceptable now than in the past.
  • In addition to exhibiting political décor at work (47 per cent), many senior managers said streaming political events (42 per cent) and talking about politics (22 per cent) was and continues to be inappropriate.
  • Roughly two in five respondents reported playing music without headphones (41 percent) and streaming sports events (39 per cent) remains an office no-no.
  • While employers, in general, identified loosening societal standards as the top reason why office etiquette rules have changed, 44 per cent of companies pointed to tech culture’s influence on organizations as the number-one impetus. 

“As workplaces evolve, many professionals are looking for greater flexibility from employers when it comes to their individual preferences at work,” said Koula Vasilopoulos, district president for Accountemps. “How an organization’s company culture is perceived can have an impact on the kinds of professionals it attracts, and ultimately retains. It’s up to employers to set the tone for the environment they want to promote by creating clear guidelines around office etiquette and using their own behaviour to set an example.”

“Your actions at work speak volumes and can impact your professional reputation in the long term ― for better or worse. If you’re unsure how an outfit or comment may be interpreted, it’s best to err on the side of caution,” added Vasilopoulos. “Showing consideration for your colleagues goes a long way in ensuring a positive, inclusive work environment and mutual respect for the success of the business.”

About the Research
The online survey was developed by Accountemps and conducted by an independent research firm. It includes responses from more than 600 senior managers at companies with 20 or more employees in Canada.

About Accountemps
Accountemps, a Robert Half company, is the world’s first and largest specialized staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals. The staffing firm has more than 300 locations worldwide. More resources, including job search services and the company’s blog, can be found at

Availability Status

Let us know you're ready to work with one click.

Update My Status

Set Your Status

Click the blue button on your profile page at least once a week to keep your status set to Available.

Set Your Status

Your status will automatically change to Idle and Unknown over time, so update it weekly while you’re looking for work

Update My Status