Workplace incivility is taking over our organisations, say scientists suggesting that even small uncivil acts can make a huge impact in the productivity of employees. When incivility happens and it affects enough employees, it can impact productivity and, eventually, the organisation's bottom line. Uncivil acts, also termed microaggressions, have been cited as a major cause of employee turnover, poor workplace climate and job dissatisfaction. "When we think about incivility we think about something major, but it doesn't have to be," said Jia Wang, associate professor at Texas A&M University in the US. "Most of the time it's the little things accumulated in your daily life that make a huge impact," said Wang. "Many people experience incivility, but they choose not to speak up because they need the job or worry about retribution," said Wang. It starts with the organisation's leadership. To make a change in the workplace, leaders need to develop behaviour statements and brainstorm about what they would consider uncivil. These statements define what qualifies as uncivil on both the personal and organisational level. It is also important for leadership to take a look at their own actions and determine whether they are being civil to their employees, Wang said. A leadership team has to be willing to engage in conversations with and take feedback from colleagues. Unfortunately, a lot of people - including CEOs and corporate leaders - are not willing to discuss uncivil behaviour because it is uncomfortable and often confrontational, researchers said. Wang recommends making small, daily changes such as starting a meeting to discuss bad behaviour a company wants to stop and good behaviour that deserves recognition. "To me, incivility is a culture thing and culture change does not happen overnight.
But, you can educate people to be culturally aware and culturally competent," Wang said. Human resource professionals can play a key role in this process by playing the role of executive coach. This relationship can support cultures and policies that measure behaviour and hold individuals accountable.
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