The Cost of Bad Behavior at Work

The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It, by Chirstine Pearson and Christine Porath was published in 2009.  The book details results of research from Pearson and Porath in their work with business leaders. Since 2009 the number of people that report rudeness at work has risen. In a recent article by business journalist Anna Robaton, she writes that Porath acknowledges 62% of workers in 2016 report that they experience rudeness at least once a month. That is up from the 48% mentioned at the time the book was written.

It is easy to blame others for incivility but that is like blaming someone who has a cold. There is an underlying reason for rudeness and it is easy to pass rudeness on to others. An analogy is like a cold, our immune system is compromised when we experience rudeness. We are more easily bothered by rude behavior when we are under stress.

Leaders in organizations can apply the top ten suggestions offered in Chapter 13 to create a civil workplace.

  1. Set Zero-Tolerance Expectations
  2. Look in the Mirror
  3. Weed out Trouble Before it Enters the Organization
  4. Teach Civility
  5. Train Employees and Managers how to Recognize and Respond to Signals
  6. Put Your Ear to the Ground and Listen Carefully
  7. When Incivility Occurs, Hammer It
  8. Take Complaints Seriously
  9. Don’t Make Excuses for Powerful Instigators
  10. Invest In Post Departure Interviews

These ten steps are not easy. They require constant vigilance.

A case study presented in Chapter 3 outlines the cost in terms of lost productivity, employee turnover, cost of managing incivility by the human resource department and absenteeism. For a healthcare organization with  annual gross income of $999,856,000 they calculated the cost of incivility in estimated loss to be $70,911,390.

The worksheets presented in the book show leaders that there are dollars to be captured by putting together a focused effort to increase civility. This book is extremely helpful to those who want to present a business case for applying the 10 suggestions.

Gather Tips and ToolsThe Wallace Centers of Iowa provides tips and tools for leading with civility in the workplace.