The cost of rudeness in the workplace

Incivility at work hurts the bottom line.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor

Many people spend a significant portion of their day on the job. So when you experience rude coworkers, bosses, or customers it can really bring you down. But it's not just a personal problem, it's a problem that impacts the entire business.

Research from the Georgetown University found that rudeness in the workplace is impacting the bottom line and it's on the rise. Professors Christine Porath and Christine Pearson found in a survey of 800 managers and employees across 17 industries that about half of workers said they were treated rudely at least once in the past week. That's up from about a quarter in 1998.

Among other impacts, surveyed workers had these reactions to rudeness:

  • 48 percent intentionally decreased their work effort
  • 47 percent intentionally decreased the time spent at work
  • 38 percent intentionally decreased the quality of their work
  • 66 percent said that their performance declined
  • 78 percent said that their commitment to the organization declined
  • 63 percent lost work time avoiding the offender

According to the researchers, rudeness also negatively impacts creativity and team spirit. It also costs the managers and executives who have to spend time mediating employee relationships.

It's not easy to calculate exactly how much it's costing businesses, but they say that a conservative estimate done by Cisco found that incivility in the workplace costs the company 12 million each year. That's a lot to spend on people not getting along.

Porath and Pearson go into more depth on their research in the latest edition of Harvard Business Review.

Photo: Flickr/Max Nathan

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