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Survey: 1 in 4 people report workplace incivility

Written on Apr 7, 2023

Workplace incivility increasingly appears to be an issue in today’s society — at a time when workers are continuing to engage in discourse around best practices for peaceful, nurturing workplaces.

In late 2021, 59% of survey-takers told Korn Ferry that their co-workers were ruder compared to pre-pandemic interactions; most respondents cited remote work as a driving factor.

One in 4 adults in the U.S. have experienced rudeness from their co-workers, new data from meQuilibrium suggests. Twenty-four percent of workers surveyed reported having their judgment questioned at work, and about 26% reported being ignored by co-workers.

The research firm surveyed 5,483 employees. Brad Smith, meQuilibrium’s chief science officer, underscored that workplace incivility doesn’t just hurt a company’s reputation, but “erodes trust” between direct reports and managers.

A smaller number of workers reported experiencing more severe uncivil treatment, including “angry outbursts,” cursing and yelling from co-workers.

The same appears to be true for patrons, too: Axonify, an L&D company for front-line workers, reported in November 2022 that customer hostility is at “an all-time high.”

“When employees are subjected to rude, disrespectful or aggressive behavior in the workplace, it can lead to decreased job satisfaction, increased stress and decreased productivity,” Smith said in a news release. This kind of environment leads to “higher rates of absenteeism” as well as more attrition overall.

Psychological safety continues to be a key motif in employee experience. Another report suggests that 84% of workers consider psychological safety one of the top-valued aspects of their workplace.

What can managers do to improve employee engagement? Be more attentive, meQuilibrium researchers said, adding that “well-supported” employees are less likely to struggle with somatic stress, less likely to face “a hard time getting motivated in the morning,” and have a 58% lower risk of burning out.

Researchers also reaffirmed a link between quiet quitting and burnout through their findings; researchers noted that younger workers reported higher levels of stress-impaired productivity and were also more likely to endorse quiet quitting.