The price of incivility

Harv Bus Rev. 2013 Jan-Feb;91(1-2):114-21, 146.


We've all heard of (or experienced) the "boss from hell." But that's just one form that incivility in the workplace can take. Rudeness on the job is surprisingly common, and it's on the rise. Whether it involves overt bullying or subtle acts of thoughtlessness, incivility takes a toll. It erodes productivity, chips away at morale, leads employees to quit, and damages customer relationships. Dealing with its aftermath can soak up weeks of managerial attention and time. Over the past 14 years the authors have conducted interviews with and collected data from more than 14,000 people throughout the United States and Canada in order to track the prevalence, types, causes, costs, and cures of incivility at work. They suggest several steps leaders can take to counter rudeness. Managers should start with themselves-monitoring their own behavior, asking for feedback on it, and making sure that their actions are a model for others. When it comes to managing the organization, leaders should hire with civility in mind, teach it on the job, create group norms, reward good behavior, and penalize bad behavior. Lest consistent civility seem an extravagance, the authors caution that just one habitually offensive employee critically positioned in an organization can cost millions in Lost employees, lost customers, and lost productivity.

MeSH terms

  • Administrative Personnel / psychology
  • Agonistic Behavior*
  • Hostility*
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Morale
  • Social Behavior
  • United States