Workplace incivility can create lasting damage—whether employees are intentionally ignored, undermined by colleagues or publicly belittled by an insensitive manager, according to a recent article from McKinsey Quarterly. Hurtful workplace behavior can drain performance, increase employee turnover and even impact customer relationships.

Christine Porath, an associate professor at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, has spent the last 18 years researching employee treatment in the workplace. She says workplace incivility is on the rise: While 49 percent of the workers she surveyed in 1998 reported they were treated rudely at least once a month, that figure rose to 55 percent in 2011 and 62 percent in 2016.

That poor treatment has a cost, she says:

  • 47 percent of respondents who were treated poorly deliberately decreased the time they spent at work; 38 percent decreased the quality of their work.
  • 78 percent said their commitment to the organization had declined.
  • 80 percent lost work time worrying about the incident; 63 percent lost work time in their effort to avoid the offender.
  • 12 percent of respondents who had been treated poorly said they left their job because of it.
  • 25 percent of those who experienced uncivil behavior admitted to taking their frustrations out on customers.

Porath also provided some practical steps for ensuring a civil workplace. See the full McKinsey Quarterly article: “The hidden toll of workplace incivility.”