Rudeness is increasing in the workplace, causing retention and health problems among employees and decline in employee camaraderie. It is also contagious, causing employees to model bad behaviors.
In a recent University of Florida study, 98 percent of workers have experienced workplace rudeness with half of employees experiencing these behaviors at least weekly.
Rudeness is contagious in workplace
Impoliteness spreads like a virus in the workplace. In the recent study, it was found that encountering rude behavior at work makes employees more likely to perceive discourtesy in later interactions, which prompts them to respond in the same manner. Even witnessing rude behavior directed at someone else seemed to have the same effect.
Incivility can hold people back or minimize their contributions, as it limits a staff’s ability to engage. Employees are less creative when they feel disrespected, and many get fed up and leave and, if they stay, team spirit around the office can deteriorate. Some employees deliberately decrease their effort or lower the quality of their work.
Customer relationships are also damaged
Incivility also damages customer relationships which can chip away at the bottom line. And although it is expensive, few organizations recognize the long-term problems or take action to curtail it. A survey among Fortune companies reveals that HR professionals spend 14 percent of their time managing incivility incidents.
How to stop contagious rudeness
Let’s address what a business owner or manager can do to stop contagious rudeness before it spreads:
- Make an effort to not be rude and model good behaviors
- Be clear, beginning with recruiting and onboarding and continuing with current employees, that workplace civility is expected
- Organizations need to teach civility on an ongoing basis. Role-playing and workshops can help
- Reward civility by measuring and scoring the behavior in your workplace
- Penalize bad behavior immediately, even if that means terminating the employee. Keep an open door policy for employees to report problems.
BCN Services can help you discuss how to create a policy about workplace rudeness and bullying and put it into practice. Contact us for assistance.
Sources: SHRM.or, Harvard Business Review, news reports.
Debbie Strahle, Partnership Manager