Employee Experience

Addressing the Toll of Workplace Incivility: Organizational Culture

3 Mins read

In recent years, the modern workplace has witnessed a growing emphasis on fostering respectful and civil environments. This shift reflects an acknowledgment of the profound impact workplace culture has on employee well-being, productivity, and organizational success. Despite this trend, many organizations continue to grapple with workplace incivility, which undermines efforts to create positive work environments.

Costs of Workplace Incivility

Workplace incivility exacts a heavy toll on organizations across various dimensions:

  • Decreased productivity: Incivility erodes employee morale and motivation, leading to reduced productivity levels and hindered performance.
  • Loss of top talent: Talented employees are less likely to remain in environments characterized by disrespect and incivility. This results in talent attrition and increased recruitment costs.
  • Inhibited innovation: A culture of incivility stifles creativity and collaboration, impeding the generation of new ideas and innovative solutions.
  • Increased sick time: The stress and anxiety caused by workplace incivility contribute to higher rates of absenteeism and sick leave. This way, further seriously impacting productivity.
  • Poor customer service: Employees who experience incivility are less likely to deliver high-quality customer service. It results in negatively affecting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Serious compliance violations: Workplace incivility often escalates into legal and regulatory issues, including harassment and discrimination claims. There were cases when organizations were exposed to reputational damage and financial penalties.

SHRM Survey Findings

The study indicates a growing concern among American workers regarding the potential escalation of workplace conflicts over the next year. Approximately, one-third anticipating such an increase. The study further highlights the significant impact of workplace civility on job satisfaction and turnover rates. It reveals that employees who perceive their workplace as lacking in civility are significantly more likely to experience job dissatisfaction and consider leaving their job within the next year compared to those in more civil work environments. Moreover, incivility not only impedes authentic self-expression but also compromises employee well-being. This way, suggesting that fostering a respectful work environment is crucial for promoting positive workplace dynamics.

incivility 2

Furthermore, the study sheds light on the communication challenges and authenticity barriers that arise in uncivil workplace. Very often, employees tend to filter their speech, withhold their opinions, suppress honest thoughts due to fear, and conceal their true selves. The most commonly observed incivil behaviors include disrespectful communication, interrupting or silencing colleagues, excessive monitoring or micromanagement, disregarding others, and displaying unprofessional body language. These findings underscore the importance of cultivating a culture of civility in the workplace to enhance employee satisfaction, retention, communication dynamics, and authenticity, thereby contributing to a more positive and productive work environment.

Impact on Compliance

Furthermore, workplace incivility poses significant compliance risks for organizations, extending beyond mere interpersonal conflicts to encompass legal and regulatory violations. Indeed, incidents of harassment, discrimination, and bullying not only damage employee morale but also expose organizations to legal liabilities and reputational harm. Therefore, by addressing workplace incivility proactively, organizations can mitigate compliance risks and safeguard their reputation as responsible corporate citizens.

HR Hotline Reports

Moreover, internal hotlines and incident management systems serve as vital tools for monitoring organizational culture and identifying potential areas of concern. In fact, the disproportionate volume of HR-related reports underscores the prevalence of workplace incivility and its detrimental impact on employee relations and organizational health. Consequently, effectively addressing these issues requires a multifaceted approach that combines proactive intervention with cultural transformation efforts.

Key Steps for Organizations

  • Define and commit to core values: Establishing clear organizational values and expectations around integrity and civility is essential for shaping a positive workplace culture. By aligning behavior with core values, organizations can cultivate a climate of respect and professionalism.
  • Provide integrity and civility training for managers: Equipping managers with the skills and resources to address incivility effectively is critical. This because it helps fostering a culture of respect and accountability. Leadership training programs should emphasize the importance of modeling appropriate behavior and creating a supportive work environment.
  • Implement a 360-degree view of managers: Soliciting feedback from employees at all levels enables organizations to identify and address uncivil behavior among managers proactively. By incorporating multiple perspectives into performance evaluations, organizations can promote transparency and accountability.
  • Be present in interactions: Encouraging meaningful, face-to-face interactions and minimizing reliance on nonessential technology fosters authentic connections and promotes civility in the workplace. Leaders should prioritize interpersonal relationships and demonstrate active engagement in employee interactions to foster a culture of respect and collaboration.


Addressing workplace incivility requires a concerted effort from organizations to prioritize integrity, respect, and professionalism. By acknowledging the profound impact of incivility on employee well-being, organizational performance, and compliance, organizations can take proactive steps to create positive work environments where all individuals feel valued and respected. Through a combination of leadership commitment, cultural transformation, and targeted interventions, organizations can cultivate a workplace culture characterized by civility, integrity, and success.

Further Reading

Effective Work Delegation: Strategies for Managers
Flexible Working Legislation: A Guide
Keeping Up With The Trends: Key Recruitment Trends for 2024

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About author
Fatjona Gërguri is the content writer for Employee Experience Magazine, covering the relevant topics about employee experience, organizational culture and general HR topics.
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