Incivility at work a growing problem, study finds
CTV News.ca Staff
Published Tuesday, August 9, 2011 6:24PM EDT
Have you noticed people aren't as eager to chat at work as they once were? Ever notice some fellow workers are just downright rude? You're not alone. New research suggests workplace rudeness is on the rise.
According to a study by researchers at Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion, 86 per cent of 289 workers at three Midwestern firms reported incivility at work.
The researchers defined workplace incivility as "characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm." In other words: plain old bad manners and out-an-out rudeness.
Of the workers polled in the study, 86 per cent said they had experienced workplace incivility. As well, 38 per cent said they believed the workplace was getting increasingly disrespectful.
The findings were presented this past weekend at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association.
Sue Jacques is not surprised with the findings. She wasn't involved in the study, but she's a corporate etiquette consultant who calls herself "The Civility CEO."
She says while one might think that with more workers working in cubicles on computers to do their job, there would be less time for interactions that escalate into conflicts, the modern work environment actually exacerbates the problem.
"We are so busy and we have so many distractions that we've kind of lost the ability to have face-to-face conversations and to continue to care about other people," she told CTV's Canada AM from Kelowna, B.C.
"We're more worried about getting the job done on time and taking on too much and we're losing our relationships and our communication."
Workers have grown ever more competitive in recent years, too, says Jacques, and that too is leading to the tensions that cause rude behaviour.
"We're in a get-it-done and get-it-done-fast kind of society now where we have to prove that we can beat the other guy. It's very competitive," she says.
That need to compete and advance also causes us to move from job to job more often, so it becomes harder to really get to know and care about the people we work with, she says.
Jacques says incivility in the workplace is more than just an annoyance; it can actually become costly to businesses. People who work in disrespectful settings tend to take more sick time, and have less loyalty to their employers. And when incidents occur, employers need to stop what they're doing to deal with conflicts among employees.
"So it can cost money, time, employees and it can even cost lives," she said.