In today’s frenzied world, dominated by the unparalleled use of social media to viciously attack people, incivility appears to be on the rise in society at large, as well as in the workplace.

While a rude, uncivil and inconsiderate work environment destroys morale and can negatively impact an employer’s bottom line, workplace incivility appears to be alive and well and indeed “thrive” in some organizations.

Reasons for organization incivility

The reasons for workplace incivility, include:

  • poor behaviour modelled by the organization’s leader or leaders
  • ignoring bad behaviour of organizational “stars”, such as rainmakers and top salespeople
  • disregarding the bad behaviour of personal favourites and protégés
  • moving ‘problem’ employees within the organization instead of dealing with the issues
  • focusing and encouraging individual performance over teamwork
  • deliberately creating a culture of conflict to keep employees on their toes
Costs of workplace incivility

In addition to causing psychological damage, incivility in the workplace, if unchecked, can impact overall productivity, morale and profitability.

The costs of workplace incivility can manifest itself in a number of ways including:

  • high absenteeism
  • high turnover
  • decreased work effort
  • increased grievances
  • poor customer service
  • decline in performance
  • human rights and other complaints
Tips for a civil workplace

What can employers do to build and maintain a civil and respectful work environment?

  • model good behaviour – while a civil work environment requires everyone’s commitment, it is critical for an organization’s leaders to set the tone
  • reward good behaviour
  • set behavioural expectations at time of hire and monitor behaviour throughout
  • consider a potential candidate’s “civility” when hiring, not just their technical skills
  • teach employees to take responsibility for their own actions
  • rely on facts, not assumptions, when dealing with complaints and conflicts
  • deal with uncivil behaviour promptly; be clear that repetition could result in a parting of ways
  • do not “tolerate” bad behaviour from organizational “stars” – treat everyone even-handedly