Bad manners: Swiss companies to send young workers on etiquette courses

Bad manners: Swiss companies to send young workers on etiquette courses

A new report by 20 Minuten has found that a number of Swiss entrepreneurs are getting tired of some of their workers’ foul mouths, bad attitudes, and, in some cases, bad smells. To help, some companies have been sending their younger workers to “etiquette training” in order to better integrate them into the workforce.

Some Swiss apprentices come to work without basic language skills

“According to statements from training companies, there is a need for specific training with regard to basic behaviour in the workplace. Some learners obviously lack the necessary basic skills,” Lukas Alt, Managing Director of Fit4School, told the newspaper. He noted that while most graduates of primary and secondary schools are competent, some young people, especially apprentices, can lack basic mathematics and language skills as they join the workforce.

According to Marc Sherrer, Head of the Competence Centre for Vocational Training in Canton Basel-Land, “Many trainees don’t have basic skills, such as a confident demeanour when dealing with customers.” Some also do not dress appropriately on the job, and when it comes to manners, Sherrer told 20 Minuten that many still need to “understand that they have to deal differently with superiors and customers than with their peers."

Christine Frey, district administrator in Canton Basel-Land, argued that children are too spoilt at home and therefore don’t understand the rules that apply to them while working. “For example, I have to remind my learners to push back the chair or put the used glasses in the kitchen. A trial learner lounged around in his chair as if he were playing a game,” she noted. 

What is involved in a Swiss etiquette course?

Upon the request of a number of companies in Switzerland, Fit4School will offer an etiquette course starting in the spring. Some of the things participants will learn are:

  • Greetings: how to say hello in a professional situation, shaking hands, eye contact and posture.
  • Communication: using the right form of address for colleagues and bosses. How to speak to customers and employees in person, via email and on the phone.
  • Social etiquette: how to interact respectfully with your workmates and customers while understanding company hierarchies.
  • Clothing: learning what is appropriate to wear when at work.
  • Hygiene and cleanliness: how to maintain personal hygiene and external appearance, and how to keep your workspace clean and tidy.

Participants will learn via discussion, role plays and video analysis. Once the course is over, the instructor will give each person detailed feedback on their performance in each area.

Course leader says it's vital to train up young Swiss workers

In concluding his statement, Alt said that training the next generation to be good employees is vital: "It's important to support apprentices. Especially since we have a shortage of skilled workers, we need to properly train the human resources that are available to us." 

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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