Road rage. Obnoxious diners bullying the server. Social media snark. Break room blowhards. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents. We might become weary of hearing about the loss of civility in the workplace and in our culture, but there is no denying that it saps individual and organizational energy.
According to research on workplace incivility as reported by McKinsey & Company, in 1998, 47 percent of workers said they experienced rude or harassing behavior from colleagues at least once a month. That number had risen to 62 percent by 2016.
The costs of incivility at work go beyond hurt feelings. “Rude, abusive, harassing, and bullying behavior has been costing organizations big time for decades,” writes Carrie Penman, Chief Compliance Officer at NAVEX Global. She points to lost productivity, higher employee turnover, damage to the customer experience, and legal hot water as impacts of workplace incivility that can devastate an organization.
Yet too often, Penman says, management brushes off employees’ concerns as “whining and complaining” instead of taking them seriously as very real compliance issues. It’s time to listen. Everyone can play a positive role in civility in the workplace, starting at the top.
3 ways to build civility in the workplace
Establish robust values
Is your business built on respect or ruthlessness? Collaboration or competition? “Core values” must be more than a pretty set of words trotted out at the annual meeting and featured on your website. They should have muscles. They should be lived every day. They should inform decision making and working relationships.
Policies need to be in place to hold everyone accountable to the values, from the C-suite to the newest hire on the maintenance staff. If the CEO’s walk doesn’t match the talk, the stated value of respect for all is worthless. If a whistleblower is not guaranteed safety, none exists — and everyone knows it. Fear and hypocrisy are not winning management techniques.
Hire and train for civility in the workplace
How did that job candidate treat the administrative assistant who scheduled the interview? Rudely? That’s a big red flag.
The hiring process can be set up to gain insights into behavior and fit. Once on the team, existing employees will benefit from regular training in ethics and civility. This is especially true for managers at all levels because they “are essential to instilling these values into every faction of the organization. Managers need to be trained on how to have hard and critical conversations in a respectful way with those they manage,” says Penman.
Build a neighborhood
Who is your neighbor? A recent biopic and documentary have brought new attention and popularity to Fred Rogers, a.k.a. Mr. Rogers of children’s television programing fame. There’s a reason for the buzz: We’re hungry for civility, for neighborliness, whether we’re conscious of it or not. We can improve our work cultures by thinking of them as neighborhoods, says Fiore Group Training.
What behaviors make good neighbors? Which ones characterize the gossipy curmudgeon down the street whom everyone avoids if they know what’s good for them? Each person can contribute to civility in the workplace by choosing to be a good neighbor with coworkers, regardless of differences. Management can set the tone by valuing and respecting each individual on the team as a human being.
We can all agree that civility in the workplace is healthy
Let’s work together to bring it back. We are here to work with you, too, whether you are building a team of talented leaders or seeking to join a new one where you are valued. Matching businesses to their ideal job candidates has been our goal for years, and we have lots of satisfied clients to testify to our success. Contact us today to discuss your future.