GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — A study published earlier this month shows workplace incivility is on the rise as people are returning to work following COVID-19 lockdowns.

Portland State University researchers say uncivil behavior is ambiguous and not very intense but can still leave harmful impacts. A few examples include: criticizing someone in public, rude or obnoxious behavior or withholding important information to more subtle acts, such as arriving late to a meeting, checking email or texting during a meeting, or ignoring or interrupting a colleague. 

Workplace incivility on the rise as out-of-practice employees return to offices, study finds

“People have gotten used to not having to engage in interpersonal communication as much and that can take an already distressing or tense situation and exacerbate it because people are out of practice of not having to have difficult conversations,” said Larry Martinez, associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology and co-author of the study. “These spirals that we’re seeing might be stronger in a post-pandemic world.”

Among the findings in the report, researchers note:

  • Employees who have more control over their jobs are less likely to reciprocate incivility. Researchers suggest that employees with greater job control have more freedom in deciding when and how their work tasks are completed, offering them the time and energy to seek social or organizational support, mentally and/or physically detach from work, reflect on the situation, or confront their uncivil colleague.
  • Employees whose immediate team or workgroup engages in more civil behavior are less likely to reciprocate incivility.
  • Employees who are older are less likely to reciprocate incivility

The study was published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.


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