20 Mar

Recent research by the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) has shed light on an unsettling trend in today's workplaces: incivility. The findings, drawn from a survey of over 1,000 U.S. employees, indicate that a significant portion of the workforce has been directly exposed to or has witnessed acts of discourtesy and disrespect on the job. Specifically, two-thirds of respondents reported encountering such behavior within the past month, with over half noting occurrences within the past week. 

The study identified several prevalent forms of incivility, including disrespectful communication, interruptions or attempts to silence others during conversations, and excessive oversight or micromanagement by superiors. These behaviors undermine professional interactions and highlight a broader issue of workplace culture and employee morale. 

Jim Link, the Chief Human Resources Officer at SHRM, emphasized the grave impact that workplace incivility can have on individuals and organizations. According to Link, the negative consequences of such an environment demand urgent attention from business leaders, particularly because they harm employees' mental and emotional well-being. 

Moreover, the research underscores the broader business implications of workplace incivility. Employees who perceive their work environment as uncivil are significantly more likely to express job dissatisfaction, demonstrate lower levels of engagement, and exhibit a higher propensity to leave their jobs within the year compared to those who view their workplace as civil. Furthermore, a civil workplace is closely linked to employees' feelings of belonging and willingness to be authentic and open professionally. 

The adverse effects of incivility extend beyond individual experiences, impacting team dynamics, collaboration, and overall organizational performance. Leadership expert Blaise Immanuel Sarkar highlighted that such environments could lead to increased stress, reduced employee morale, and diminished productivity. Organizations suffer as well, facing challenges like higher turnover rates, decreased customer satisfaction, and a lack of creativity and innovation. 

Fostering a civil work environment is crucial for maintaining employee morale, productivity, and overall organizational health. Here's a top ten list of strategies leaders can implement to promote civility in the workplace: 

  • Lead by Example: Leaders should embody the values of respect, kindness, and professionalism. By demonstrating civil behavior in their interactions, leaders set a positive standard for everyone to follow.
  • Establish Clear Policies: Create and communicate clear policies that outline expected behaviors and the consequences for incivility. Ensure these policies cover all forms of communication, including digital interactions.
  • Promote Open Communication: Encourage an open-door policy where employees feel safe to express concerns, share ideas, and report instances of incivility without fear of retaliation.
  • Provide Civility Training: Offer training programs that focus on communication skills, emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and sensitivity training to help employees understand the importance of civility and how to practice it.
  • Recognize and Reward Civil Behavior: Acknowledge and reward employees who consistently demonstrate respect and professionalism. Recognition programs can motivate others to emulate these positive behaviors.
  • Foster Inclusivity and Diversity: Create a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusivity. Encourage empathy and understanding by celebrating different backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.
  • Implement Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: Establish effective mechanisms for conflict resolution that allow for impartial and fair handling of disputes. This can include mediation services or a conflict resolution committee.
  • Encourage Team Building Activities: Organize team-building exercises and events that foster collaboration and mutual respect among team members. These activities can help break down barriers and build stronger relationships.
  • Monitor Workload and Stress Levels: Ensure that workloads are manageable and provide support for employees who are overwhelmed or stressed. A supportive work environment can reduce instances of frustration and incivility.
  • Conduct Regular Reviews: Regularly assess the workplace culture through surveys, feedback sessions, and meetings to identify areas for improvement. Act on the feedback received to make necessary adjustments that promote civility.

By prioritizing these actions, leaders can create a more civil, supportive, and productive work environment that benefits both employees and the organization. 

The findings from SHRM's research present a compelling call to action for businesses to reevaluate their workplace cultures and implement strategies that promote civility, respect, and empathy. Recognizing and addressing the toll of incivility is crucial for the well-being of employees and the success of organizations. By fostering a more respectful and supportive environment, companies can improve individual and team performance and enhance their overall competitive advantage in the marketplace. 

The Deep End team is here to help you navigate programs, policies, and employee relations issues to foster a more civil workplace. Contact us today at hello@deependstrategies.com

Book Recommendations

Want a deeper dive? Here are five highly recommended books that offer valuable insights and strategies for leaders and employees interested in fostering civility in the workplace:

"Mastering Civility: A Manifesto for the Workplace" by Christine Porath This book explores the costs of incivility and the importance of creating respectful and engaging work environments. Porath offers actionable advice for individuals at all levels to improve civility in their interactions and organizational culture. 

"The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It" by Christine Pearson and Christine Porath Pearson and Porath delve into how incivility can negatively impact a business's bottom line and provide strategies for leaders to address and prevent rude behavior in the workplace. 

"Choosing Civility: The Twenty-five Rules of Considerate Conduct" by P.M. Forni. Forni's book outlines twenty-five rules for considerate conduct, offering a simple yet effective framework for improving interpersonal relationships and fostering a culture of respect and civility at work and in personal life. 

"The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't" by Robert I. Sutton Sutton examines the detrimental effects of having toxic individuals in the workplace and provides practical advice for creating a more civilized work environment. He emphasizes the importance of setting boundaries and standards to prevent and address uncivil behavior. 

"Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time" by Susan Scott While not exclusively about civility, this book emphasizes the importance of open, honest, and respectful communication. Scott provides readers with tools to have meaningful conversations that can address and resolve conflict, build relationships, and improve organizational culture. 

These books offer a blend of research-backed insights, practical advice, and actionable strategies for improving workplace civility and navigating the complexities of interpersonal dynamics in professional settings.