Uncivil and hostile work environments impede productivity. Employees rely on a healthy exchange of ideas, energy and knowledge to be able to work together in a positive and constructive way and uncivil attitudes and behaviors stifle that atmosphere. “Research has linked incivility to numerous negative outcomes for both individuals and organizations, such as stress, anxiety, depression, lost productivity, and even retaliation against the organization,” said Michael P. Leiter of the Psychology Department at Acadia University in Nova Scotia, and lead author of a recent study examining the effects of a civility intervention. “The prevalence of incivility in organizations calls for effective interventions to enhance the quality of working relationships.”
Leiter and his colleagues implemented the CREW (Civility, Respect, and Engagement at Work) intervention to hospital workers to determine if it would improve morale and overall job performance. “The theoretical basis of our approach builds on the proposition that people benefit psychologically from belonging to social groups that confirm self-worth, security, and trust of others,” said Leiter. “Poor interpersonal relationships at work, including incivility, tend to be related to negative employee outcomes, such as decreased mental health (depression, anxiety), job stress, increased somatic symptoms, and emotional exhaustion.”
Nearly 1000 hospital workers were surveyed before the CREW intervention and again six months after. “The results demonstrated a positive impact of the CREW intervention: Among CREW intervention units, there were meaningful improvements in health care workers’ reports of unit civility, burnout, job attitudes, management trust, and absences after 6 months of the intervention.” Leiter said, “The results pertaining to absences were especially encouraging in that improvements in attendance have major cost savings implications for hospitals.” He added, “CREW has the potential to increase reciprocity in social relationships through its focus on developing the social behavior of all members of a working group. By improving these social behaviors, the process has a potential to further positive work interactions that are self-sustaining. The results support the utility of planned improvements in these aspects of work, and they demonstrate that improving workplace civility has broad implications for employees’ relationships with work.”
Leiter, Michael P., Heather K. Spence Laschinger, Arla Day, and Debra Gilin Oore. “The Impact of Civility Interventions on Employee Social Behavior, Distress, and Attitudes.”Journal of Applied Psychology 96.6 (2011): 1258-274. Print.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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