If you’ve been on Facebook at all the last few weeks, you’ll probably say “yes, rudeness is on the rise.” It’s easy for some people to be obnoxious when they’re not talking face-to-face. But what about in-person incivility, is it increasing?

At the place where most adults spend 40-60 hours of their week, it would seem so. Research by Georgetown Professor Christine Porath and Christine Pearson, professor at the Thunderbird School of Global Management, suggests that workplace disrespect is on the rise. The percentage of employees who report being treated rudely by colleagues at least once a month rose from 49% to 62% over the past 18 years.

Rudeness is taking a toll on productivity. Of those who reported being treated uncivilly, nearly half said they decreased time spent at work. Who can blame them? A third reduced the quality of their work and a majority indicated that their performance, ability to collaborate, and commitment to the company declined. Twelve percent left the organization.

Not surprisingly, rudeness impacts customers. Research out of the University of Southern California found that customers avoided uncivil environments. It didn’t matter if the rudeness was directed at them or at other employees.

What’s the solution? Porath says leadership matters most. When business leaders hire employees, they should look for civility in their candidates and screen out the potentially rude. Leaders should also set the standard for behavior at the office. They should both model civil behavior and coach employees by provoking training and feedback. A leader who provides recognition and appreciation sets the tone for office communication. These efforts to promote civility increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Of course, if a leader’s hands are tied by government mandates on who they hire, they may not have a choice. Regulations define every hiring manager’s decision except actual skills and organization fit. Once candidates are screened to only those who comply with the regulations, in today’s tight labor market, they might not have a broad selection of candidates.

Is rudeness on the rise? Yes. Is it foregone conclusion that it will continue to rise? No.

Next up, ridding social media of rudeness.

What are your thoughts?

Should businesses be free to hire the right people for the right job, or should they be forced to fill mandated quotas, that could result in the wrong workplace mix?

Learn more about the impact of regulations, and let us know your thoughts on Facebook!

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