Rude comments, discourteous behaviors and heightened tensions. As if HR professionals didn’t already have enough on their plates, they must now contend with the growing prevalence of incivility in their organizations.
While bad behavior has always existed in the workplace, it now seems to be growing at an exponential rate and it’s causing a lot of chaos—and performance problems. Incivility left unchecked will result in lower levels of morale, engagement and productivity. And good luck with retention, because that will suffer, too.
The HR Magazine article “How to Create a Culture of Civility
,” by senior writer/editor Dori Meinert, quotes Christine Porath, an associate professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business and author of Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace. According to Porath, “while one-quarter of the people surveyed in 1998 reported being treated rudely at work at least once a week, that figure rose to 55 percent in 2011 and 62 percent in 2016.”
The article adds that “When Porath surveyed workers two years ago to find out why they behave uncivilly, more than half said they were overloaded at work and 40 percent claimed they had ‘no time to be nice.’ About 25 percent reported being rude because their bosses acted that way.”
The article cites a Michigan State University study
from August 2016, which reported that “people who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued” and “when employees are mentally fatigued, it is more difficult for them to keep their negative impulses and emotions in check.” Additionally, “being the victim of incivility leaves employees depleted because they must expend energy to understand why they were targeted and how to respond.”
The study also stated that when an employee experiences rude behavior, it reduces their self-control “and leads them to act in a similar manner, causing a vicious cycle” and that “bad behavior really spirals in workplaces that are perceived as political—that is, where co-workers act out of self-interest rather than what is best for the organization.”
HR professionals can help turn the tide by creating policies and procedures for hiring, training and performance management that promote a culture of kindness, respect and diplomacy.
How do you handle incivility in your workplace?
Please join @shrmnextchat at 3 p.m. ET on April 12 for #Nextchat with special guest Christine Porath (@PorathC). We'll chat about the rise of incivility and how organizations can encourage more conflict-free cultures.
Q1. Why do you think incivility is growing in our workplaces?
Q2. What examples of incivility have you witnessed or experienced in your workplace?
Q3. How does your HR department respond to reports or complaints of incivility in your workplace? Do you have a formal procedure?
Q4. As an employer/HR, how do you distinguish between incivility and harassment? When does it cross the line?
Q5. What defines incivility in your workplace? When is it free speech and when is it harassment?
Q6. How do you coach/counsel employees who have displayed incivility in your workplace?
Q7. How do you train your organization’s people managers to deal with incivility in the workplace?
Q8. What steps can employers take to reduce instances of incivility and to encourage a culture of respect and tolerance?
If you missed this chat you can read the RECAP here.
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