The Office Courtesy Series: Hostile behavior hurts office productivity

| September 4, 2013

Growing up, many of us were taught to “treat others the way you want to be treated,” probably by a parent or teacher. Perhaps you haven’t been reminded of that lesson lately, but many companies would benefit from their employees following the golden rule.

According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, uncivil behavior at the office can hurt productivity, creativity, and talent. Replacing rudeness, judgment, and harassment with smiles, eye contact, and compliments may be the secret ingredient in the recipe for corporate success.

office cubicles

Office workers divided by cubicles should make an effort to connect with coworkers for a more pleasant working environment. From Michael Lokner.

A study of 3,000 participants by Georgetown University and Thunderbird School of Global Management found that 96% of workers have experienced hostile behavior, while 98% of participants have witnessed it. In recent years, the popularity of publications releasing lists revealing “the best companies to work for” and especially “the worst companies to work for” have put pressure on employers to create a desirable company culture.

It’s no secret Google is one of the most dominant corporations in the world.  Its ability to attract top-tier talent not only comes from its superb product, but also its well-known dedication to creating a comfortable work atmosphere. This starts with Google’s Rules, including “provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive,” and “make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.” According to Laszlo Bock, head of Google’s People Operations Department, displaying warmth toward a new employee on their first day equates to a 15 percent higher production rate in that person over the next nine months.

Now imagine an employee’s productivity if that warmth and consideration continued over a period of years. Now imagine an entire office full of satisfied, productive employees full of that warm and fuzzy feeling. Who wouldn’t want to work there?

The stress, hours, and lack of resources in the workplace can create a breeding ground for bad behavior that is hard to escape. Kind gestures, no matter how small, and a dedication to professionalism will only make the office a more desirable place to be, resulting in inspiration, growth, and success.

office space

A friendly office environment makes for more productive employees. From Stuart-Forster.

Quick tips for bringing courtesy back to the workplace:

  • Take the time to be polite.
  • Make your criticism constructive.
  • If there’s a conflict, address it in a private, face-to-face meeting—never behind your coworker’s back or over email!
  • Recognize others’ work.
  • Say “thank you.”
  • Listen.

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Category: New Products, Office courtesy

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