Workplace incivility can be passed on
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Estimates are that workplace incivility – put-downs, sarcasm and other condescending comments – cost companies, on average, about $14,000 per employee annually due to loss of production and work time.
Now a new study has found that incivil behaviors at work can have a contagious effect.
And the study has also identified how the contagion occurs.
The study of 70 workers found that experiencing rude behavior increased mental fatigue.
The increased mental fatigue reduced employees’ self-control and led them to act in a similar, incivil manner later in the day.
The study also found that incivil behaviors were more frequent in the workplace than openly hostile behaviors, such as bullying, harassment and threats.
Lead researcher, Chris Rosen, professor of management at the University of Arkansas said:
Basically, incivility begets incivility.
And our findings verify that these contagion effects occur within very short, even daily cycles.
The “incivility spirals” occurred unintentionally and predominantly in workplaces that were perceived as “political,” which was defined as an environment where workers do what is best for them and not best for the organization.
The study was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology (Rosen et al., 2016).
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