One Bad Apple Is All It Takes To Destroy a Friendly Work Environment
It’s al old saying — not to mention a Jackson 5 song — and it’s true: It only takes one bad apple to spoil the whole bunch. There’s a recent study from Sweden of just how disruptive workplace “incivility” can be.
While the business world has become increasingly sensitive to the damaging effects of bullying, It turns out just-plain-rudeness is also surprisingly toxic. Small meannesses such as leaving someone out of an email thread, the occasional dirty look, or ignoring a coworker affect not just the direct recipient, but also anyone observing the nastiness.
Decreased Job Satisfaction — If there’s a person no one likes to meet with, or if the seating geography of a break room is determined by people avoiding sitting near someone, those times of day bring a negative feeling into an otherwise satisfying work experience.
Higher Turnover Rates — One nasty coworker can result in higher turnover rates because he or she can create an unpleasant environment that no one is happy to stay in, regardless of salary, benefits, and perks.
Sleep Problems — Employees with rude coworkers are more likely to suffer sleep deprivation, most likely from the background stress levels difficult person produces. Obviously, being tired makes this stress harder to deal with and can affect work quality.
Poor Mental Health — Other studies have found bullying and harassment produce negative psychological effects, and this study found a similar impact with incivility.
Rude Behavior is Contagious — When behavioral norms are influenced by nasty behavior, particularly when it goes uncorrected, an entire environment can be ruined. The study found people observing rudeness are more likely to view it as acceptable and begin practicing it themselves. The study even found they were more likely to provoke trouble with their coworkers.
Rude employees are often left with their behavior uncorrected because they tend to be the kind of person who “brings a gun to a knife fight,” and everyone would rather give them a wide berth. Still, this destructive behavior needs to be corrected, no matter how unpleasant it may be to confront the person.