No More Drama. How to Maintain Workplace Civility

How to Foster Respect in the Workplace 

Why Is Workplace Civility Important?

Yelling, cursing, insults and disrespect: these are all symptoms of an uncivil environment. If your workplace increasingly has more drama than an episode of the Jerry Springer show, it might be time for an intervention and a little conversation on the topic of workplace civility.

A little drama is expected when employees with differing and sometimes clashing personalities need to work together. The problem comes when the drama level mirrors a Bravo reality show. Take a good, clear-eyed view of your office. Do any of your employees look on the verge of flipping tables? If so, it’s time to reevaluate the level of civility.

It might help to know you’re not alone. According to a 2011 study by KRC Research 38 percent of workers felt workplaces were becoming less civil. With the down economy, some workers feel more trapped than ever in their jobs. If the office is a stressful, uncivil place these workers will feel like they’re being held ransom in their cubicles. With 83 percent of workers citing civility in the workplace as important, constant melodramatics will mean bleeding talent.

Why Worry About Civility at work? 

Well, for one thing, no one likes to work in an uncivil environment. Think about the last time you were insulted or disrespected. Did you feel motivated after this instance? Not likely. Employees who don’t feel respected or valued are more likely to call in sick, be less productive, and put in grievances and complaints.

More damaging still, they will be more likely to pass along their bad attitude to others. This means customer service can really suffer along with your employees. Thanks to displacement, a disrespected employee might pass along this disrespect to customers or business partners. This can loose your company business and give it a bad name.

So how do you restore civility? Here are some helpful tips to course-correct:

Respect at Work:  Start Early

It’s never too early to develop a good habit! Focus on civility in the hiring process and you can nip bad behavior in the bud. When hiring, make sure you focus on candidates who are qualified but don’t seem like loose cannons. If you’re watching a video resume, focus on how the potential hire behaves. In the interview process, throw out some potentially stressful scenarios to see how a candidate would react. Always keep your eye on body language and nonverbal cues, even if the interview is through online video instead of in person. Getting the right (respectful) employees right out of the gate will save you time and money later.

Language & Cursing at Work 

Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t say it to your Grandma, don’t say it at work. Sure, everyone is human and people curse. If f-bombs are a daily workplace occurrence, however, you might have a hostile environment on your hands. At a recent Women in the Economy panel former Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz said her number one regret was the amount she cursed at work. Some cursing can be fine, and even motivating. Every employee will have different comfort level with profanity, however, so it’s best to tone down salty language. 

Foster Respect in the Workplace 

Respect is the key component to a civil and happy workplace. Make sure employees respect each other, management, and themselves. Keep employees motivated with challenging work and let them know their contributions are valued. Make sure employees working together respect each other and what everyone brings to the table. Making the office a respectful environment will lead to happier, more productive employees and a more civil and civility-filled space for all.


Josh Tolan is the CEO of SparkHire, which combines a video job board and online interviewing platform to enrich interaction between job seekers and employers. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and @sparkhire on Twitter. 

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Josh Tolan is the CEO of Spark Hire, a video powered hiring network that connects job seekers and employers through video resumes and online interviews. Connect with him and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter.

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