I came across this interesting post about incivility at work. It mentions a survey that found 86% of Americans report they’ve been victims of workplace incivility. The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) defines incivility as “seemingly inconsequential inconsiderate words and deeds that violate conventional workplace conduct.”
Given SHRM’s definition, the survey number is really not a surprise. I recently had some repair work done inside my home. The name of the company is immaterial but I will say they are in the Fortune 20. Multiple repair people came to my house. Each person complained about the co-worker prior – how lazy they were, didn’t fix the problem, made the problem worse, gonna tell a supervisor, yada yada yada. Much of the conversation spilled over to trashing the company in general. All the while I’m thinking – if that’s how you talk about your co-workers and company in front of a customer, how do you treat each other when customers aren’t around?! And how does that translate to the customer service you’re giving me – and my level of expectation from the company?
Okay, enough of my home repair drama. Back to the definition of incivility. It creates for me a long list of questions:
What is “conventional workplace conduct”?
If there is conventional workplace conduct, then why is an action that violates it “inconsequential”?
Who decides what “words and deeds are inconsiderate”?
Don’t get me wrong. I know incivility exists. And in some organizations it’s been bred into the corporate culture and relabeled as entrepreneurial spirit, transparency, or authenticity. Which is a real shame.
Pure and simple, incivility is being rude and lacking manners. Sad to say, it’s not a new phenomenon. Today’s workplaces are stressed to the max and when that happens … well, let’s just say we forget our P’s and Q’s. We snap a bit faster and maybe say something we wouldn’t or shouldn’t under different circumstances. I’m not making excuses, it’s just the reality of the contemporary workplace.
Speaking of reality, businesses need to realize those 86% of seemingly inconsequential words and deeds have an impact. A big impact on the bottom line of their organization. An article on ConsumerAffairs.com sites research linking employee rudeness and future business. I know, it’s not a shocker. Basically, if you treat customers badly they will take their business elsewhere. The amazing part is how many times we have to say it. And it’s still ignored.
Acceptable workplace conduct should be defined. Unacceptable actions need to be accounted for. Managers and their employees need to be held accountable. Your customers will thank you for it.
Image courtesy of michelhrv