Warning #2: Workplace Incivility On The Rise

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I have talked to many veterans in my industry and they agree that things seem worse than they can ever remember. More chaotic, more confused and more mean spirited. In a recent study of workplace incivility, researchers found that levels of workplace disrespect, marginalization, undermining and public belittling has increased 13% since 1998, and it’s accelerating.Workplace incivility is an increasingly important indicator of organizational frustration, a lack of respect and poor accountability.

In a Harvard Business Review article a few years ago, Christine Porath and Christine Pearson reported that during their 14 years researching how people were treated in the workplace, 98% reported experiencing uncivil behavior. In 2011 half said they were treated rudely at least once a week…a 100% increase since 1998.

And all this incivility has a heavy price tag. Porath and Pearson found that among workers who’ve been on the receiving end of incivility:

  • 48% intentionally decreased their work effort.
  • 47% intentionally decreased the time spent at work.
  • 38% intentionally decreased the quality of their work.
  • 80% lost work time worrying about the incident.
  • 63% lost work time avoiding the offender.
  • 66% said that their performance declined.
  • 78% said that their commitment to the organization declined.
  • 12% said that they left their job because of the uncivil treatment.
  • 25% admitted to taking their frustration out on customers.

And of course, this degradation in performance has a ripple effect. Customers stop buying from organizations whose staff treats them poorly. Other workers spend their time talking about the incident rather than getting back to work and managers spend the equivalent of seven weeks a year dealing with the aftermath of incivility.

Accountability is not yelling at someone when something goes wrong; it’s trying to understand why it went wrong, what role you, as the leader, played in the failure and then addressing the underlying problems in order to set our employees up for success and higher levels of performance.

Is workplace incivility on the rise, or are people just more sensitive these days?

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