workplace incivility

Workplace incivility is on the rise.

Are you stressed on the job? Do rude,  inconsiderate, or unpleasant coworkers add to your list of headaches? “Workplace incivility” is on the rise,  said researchers at the American Psychological Association annual meeting on Sunday.


The academics define workplace incivility as “a form of organizational deviance… characterized by low-intensity behaviors that violate respectful workplace norms, appearing vague as to intent to harm.”

Translation: rudeness, insults and plain old bad manners.

Research suggests “75% to 80% of people have experienced incivility. It’s a growing and prevalent problem,” said Jeannie Trudel of Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion.

“It’s very hard to target because you don’t really know if someone actually means to be rude or if it’s just off the cuff, so it’s an insidious problem,” Trudel says. “There are very, very negative effects of accumulated minor stresses.”

In a study she co-wrote, 86% of 289 workers at three Midwestern firms reported incivility at work.

As companies buy out and lay off workers while expecting to keep productivity up, the niceties suffer, suggests psychologist and researcher Paul Fairlie of Toronto: “White-collar work is becoming a little more blue-collar. There’s higher work demands, longer hours. When you control for inflation, people are getting paid less than in the late ’60s. A lot of people are working much harder. They’ve got fluid job descriptions and less role clarity. So for some people, for a growing fringe, work is becoming more toxic.”

The Civility in America 2011 poll of 1,000 adults found 43% of Americans say they’ve experienced incivility at work, and 38% believe the workplace is increasingly disrespectful. In the online survey, done in May by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate in partnership with KRC Research, 67% cited a “critical need” for civility training.

Fairlie’s online survey of 574 full- or part-timers found meaningful work is important to all ages. Older workers “don’t see it as meaningful anymore because they were expecting more,” he says. “Younger people are seeing what work did to their parents” and saying, “‘I’m not paying my dues. I’m going backpacking. I’ll come back and get a job.”’

Photo credit: Perspectives

Via USA Today