New Study Reveals the Downsides of Incivility
A new study revealed that rude behavior and sarcasm are becoming common at work. These forms of incivility in workplaces are spreading, and have doubled over the past two decades.
According to the study authored by Russell Johnson, associate professor of management at the Eli Broad College of Business, and colleagues, experiencing rude behavior reduces employees’ self-control and leads them to act in a similar uncivil manner.
Aside from that, the study revealed the ill effects of incivility in politically charged workplaces. It cited that incivility causes mental fatigue among workers and employees become less productive in work.
The study also found that incivility spirals occurred in workplaces that were perceived as political (i.e., where co-workers do what is best for them, not what is best for the organization).
Incivility Causes Mental Fatigue Among Workers
Incivility is not only a common occurrence in the workplace today. People who are recipients of incivility at work feel mentally fatigued as a result as well.
The study stated that incivility leaves employees depleted because they must spend energy to understand why they were targeted and how to respond. Consequently, this mental fatigue led workers to act uncivilly toward other workers. This means that employees paid the incivility forward.
Johnson said, “Even for employees who desire to be agreeable and polite; they simply lack the energy to suppress curt and impatient responses.”
The study also found that incivility affects employee’s performance at work. Aside that it is prevalent in the workplace, it has a significant effect on employees as well.
In fact, the study showed that incivility has an average annual impact on companies of $14,000 per employee due to loss of production and work time.
The Study and Other Results
The study invited 70 employees as respondents to the survey. The respondent employees filled out a survey relating to incivility and its effects three times a day for 10 consecutive workdays.
Interestingly, the researchers found that incivility spirals when acts of incivility lead to later acts of incivility that can occur unintentionally.
How to Counter The Rise of Incivility
The study suggests that one way to curb incivility in the workplace, is by providing clear feedback to employees about the types of behaviors that are desired. This can be done by enhancing the quality of feedback provided during daily interactions on an informal basis. It can also be done formally via the performance management process.