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The Hidden Toll of Workplace Incivility

Technology was supposed to make everyone’s lives better. Better lives should probably equate to nicer people. Yet McKinsey shares data that 62 percent of employees reported “being treated rudely by colleagues at least once a month” in 2016! Compare that to 49 percent in 1998. What happened? There is no one explanation for the rise in malice, but in an article for McKinsey, Christine Porath discusses the serious repercussions of its presence.

Negative Feedback Loop

For one thing, workplace performance suffers. Never underestimate the power of spite:

Forty-seven percent of those who were treated poorly deliberately decreased the time spent at work, and 38 percent said they intentionally decreased the quality of their work. Not surprisingly, 66 percent admitted their performance declined and 78 percent said their commitment to the organization had declined. Part of the performance penalty is related to how employees internalize stress levels. Eighty percent lost work time worrying about the incident, and 63 percent lost work time in their effort to avoid the offender.

Along those same lines, jaded or disrespected employees are more likely to be uncooperative in team environments, and their willingness to create a positive customer experience drops. Unsurprisingly, incivility increases employee turnover as well. In the McKinsey survey, 12 percent said they had left jobs due to uncivil treatment. This problem is exacerbated however by the fact that most employees who leave for this reason probably do not share that reason with their employer. It is hard for businesses to rectify a problem that they do not know exists.

Porath goes on to share a few details on what can be done to rectify incivility. For starters, a rigorous interviewing process that gets a better pulse on employee behavior can weed out the inherently toxic workers. Second, businesses should offer training on how to be civil in the workplace, including things like these: how to give and receive feedback, how to work through cultural differences, how to develop mindfulness, and how to manage stress.

As tends to be the case, change must begin at the top. Positive, encouraging (or negative, discouraging) leadership can make all of the difference, and often, it does. Leaders who treat employees with respect will be more likely to see their employees treating everyone else with respect.

You can view the original article here: http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-hidden-toll-of-workplace-incivility

About John Friscia

Profile photo of John Friscia
John Friscia is the Editor of Computer Aid's Accelerating IT Success. He began working for Computer Aid, Inc. in 2013 and continues to provide graphic design support for AITS. He graduated summa cum laude from Shippensburg University with a B.A. in English.

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