The Importance of Manners & Politeness in the Workplace

The common mantra of treating others how you want to be treated has a place not only in your personal life, but also in the workplace. Whether you’re dealing with co-workers directly or simply passing someone in the hallway, every interaction should be viewed as an opportunity to create a positive working environment.

Unacceptable Behavior

    Unacceptable behaviors in the workplace run the gamut from offensive personal behaviors to rude actions and reactions while on the job. Working in close proximity to others requires tact and a little common sense. The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study, published in 2003, provides a little insight into the types of uncivil behavior that employees define as a problem in the workplace. They include refusing to contribute to team projects, neglecting common courtesies such as “thank you” and “please,” yelling at coworkers and public criticism or outbursts.

Employee Impact

    Rudeness, bad manners and disrespectful behavior impact not only those around you, but also the entire culture and productivity of the workplace. According to Christine Pearson and Christine Porath, co-authors of “The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do about It” published in 2009, 80 percent of employees who experience disrespectful behavior and incivility in the workplace demonstrated a reduced commitment to the company. When not engaged and committed, an employee’s production and creativity decreases.

Employer Costs

    Pearson and Porath also found that stress on the job costs U.S. employers approximately $300 billion annually and the price tag of replacing each employee who leaves is approximately $50,000. Findings of The Baltimore Workplace Civility Study revealed that incivility in the workplace can have additional negative consequences for employers. Employees who experienced uncivil behavior admitted to discussing the incident with coworkers, calling in sick and contemplating changing jobs. These types of actions have an affect not only on the production and efficiency of the company; they have a negative impact on employee morale and the culture of the workplace.

Setting the Tone

    Fortunately, companies have begun to take notice of the costs associated with incivility in the workplace. This has led to the adoption of zero tolerance policies and a focus on making sure expectations surrounding civility in the workplace are a prominent part of the company’s culture. In addition, more strategic hiring efforts help ensure companies hire competent and civil employees.

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