Most workers agree the US has a civility problem — just not at their workplace
- Almost all employees (93%) in a recent Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate survey agree that society has a civility problem, but a strong majority (92%) also said their workplaces are very or somewhat civil. Additionally, 69% of those polled called the U.S. "civility deficit" a major problem.
- According to employee responses, a civil workplace is one in which leadership is likely to be perceived as civil (49%) and one in which workers feel comfortable reporting uncivil behavior (33%). Nearly half (48%) of employees who reported working in uncivil workplaces said that they did not trust leaders to address complaints about incivility.
- Survey researchers indicated that the results aren't an indication that employees in uncivil workplaces accept incivility as normal, but that half of employees in both types of organizations hold leadership responsible for enforcing civility at work. Researchers also found that employees in uncivil organizations reported hearing more uncivil remarks now than before. Organizations that integrate diversity and inclusion into their cultures tend to be civil workplaces, survey results showed.
Uncivil behavior may lead to claims of unlawful conduct, such as sexual harassment and discrimination. HR professionals can lead organizational efforts to create and maintain a workplace of civility, which might include a cultural overhaul. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission offers respectful workplaces training for both employers and workers.
The survey results suggest that employees look to management for clues on acceptable and unacceptable conduct. When asked how to create civility in the workplace, respondents supported both civility training (42%) and employers encouraging workers to report uncivil behavior (40%). Uncivil behavior, like all forms of misconduct, spreads unless organizations openly address it.
To many organizations, diversity and inclusion are inherent pieces to the civility puzzle. The goal is to have a workplace where diverse groups of people are hired and made to feel they belong in the organization, and where respectful behavior and discourse are expected of management and employees at all times.