Nobody likes to be dissed. But when disrespect seeps into the workplace, you can be looking at some serious consequences. Whether you are a manager, owner or employee, lack of respect in the workplace is simply not something you have to put up with to make a living, even though rude and hostile behavior seem to be coming more and more common. Workplaces around the world are suffering from rampant disrespect that ruins relationships and wreaks havoc with productivity that eventually erodes the bottom line.
When employees ignore coworkers or disregard their opinions, those on the receiving end of the disrespect tend to get defensive, making it difficult for them to trust anyone at work. In an atmosphere in which everyone feels the subtle hostility and is working to watch their own backs, teamwork can be seriously compromised. High-performing teams are at the core of business success, according the National Institutes of Health Public Personnel Management division, but disrespect among coworkers makes teamwork nearly impossible. Individuals shift from a team consciousness to self preservation. Rudeness is insidious, too, because it’s difficult to prove. It’s not like open verbal harassment or violence, yet it ultimately has the same effect -- lack of cooperation, open hostility and distrust among coworkers.
Turnover is costly to any company in terms of straight-up financial consequences, loss of experience and the general undermining of community. Many people would rather leave well-paying, prestigious jobs for seemingly lesser opportunities just because they’re unhappy in the hostile environment. A 2012 Gallup poll found that about 17 percent of workers quit their jobs because of poor manager relations. Salaries, job perks and benefits aren’t worth the stress and resulting health damage they bring, and only about 22 percent of workers leave over money. Talented individuals don’t have to put up with a disrespectful workplace because they can relocate to a job where they feel respected.
Cuts Into Profits
Disrespect translates directly into severely decreased productivity, as enormous chunks of time are spent either engaging in or trying to diffuse conflicts. Staffs might be short on a regular basis, as many would rather call in sick and take a "mental health day" than deal with the hostilities. Rude behavior includes other labor-robbing, costly actions like showing up late for meetings, sending crude and unwanted emails to coworkers, gossiping, feeding customers and coworkers misinformation and staff spending time surfing the internet rather than pulling their own weight. Additionally, rudeness at work can escalate into lawsuits for wrongful termination or harassment, which are costly regardless of whether the plaintiff wins.
Hazardous to Your Health
Disrespectful conduct often is nothing short of bullying, which can take substantial tolls on the lives of employees. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, researching ways to reduce workplace stress, found that 24.5 percent of companies they surveyed reported instances of bullying in the previous year. People in hostile environments often get physically ill and can suffer from a host of problems ranging from digestive issues and fatigue to irregular sleep patterns and depression. Bottom line -- the conduct leads to stress on individual employees, managers and company profits. Stress causes physical reactions and emotional burnout, which then create negativity, antisocial behavior and far less productivity.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."