Causes of Workplace Incivility

A case could be made that it’s fair to the supervisors and managers to paint all of their sub-ordinates and associates under them in a negative light, as all of them don’t have the same managerial style and approach to work. Indeed, our very first premise began by wondering why extreme outbursts at workplace are not so common when there are millions of employees getting reprimanded, terminated and influenced every day.

There’s no questioning the talent and team-managing skills that are employed by many efficient managers and supervisors all over the world, however, there are certain situations when even the most seasoned and adept managers are found at the end of their tether. Such situations are often caused when managers are spurred on to achieve unrealistic targets within pressing deadlines.

Such expectations force the managers to apply relentless pressure on their teams to extract the best performance out of them. While this might give positive results at times, but expecting a team to meet stiff targets every day is unrealistic and when a team does bad, it results in a kick the cat situation where the managers won’t be able to vent their frustration on anyone other than the hapless subordinates, and the unwelcome actions they conduct on that particular day forms the basis of incivility.

After having a discussion with HR heads and disgruntled ex-employees, researchers identified the five major areas which were behind the uncivil behavior of most employees −

  • Pay-cuts − It was found that making frequent pay-cuts was one of the biggest reasons many employees resorted to uncivil behavior.
  • Part-time Employees − Employing part-time employees when there already is a full-time staff made the existing full-time employees uncertain about their job and career prospects, leading them toward uncivil behavior.
  • Freezing payments − Freezing payments of staff and making budget-cutting makes the workplace extremely unfavorable for an employee.
  • Changing Managers − Employees get used to the managerial styles of their supervisors and become productive over a period of time. Making sudden managerial changes significantly decreases the levels of employee engagement.

In addition to these administrative reasons, improper working environments like unhygienic workplace, high temperature, and poor ventilation also influence uncivil behavior.