The LandaJob Blog:
Expert Perspectives and Industry Trends

Attention Employers: Rude Workers Cost you Money!

It’s sad but true. According to a 2007 study published in the Academy of Management Journal, incivility costs companies approximately $14,000 per employee. And, a 2016 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology says that incivility is contagious.

We’re not talking about obvious inappropriate behavior like bullying. We’re talking about more subtle actions like sarcasm, eye-rolling, condescension, and derogatory remarks.

When employees experience this type of behavior from a co-worker or supervisor, they suffer mental fatigue. They spend time and energy trying to interpret what happened. What did they do to deserve this? How should they respond? If they’re dealing with this on a regular basis it can severely affect their performance and obviously their job satisfaction.

In addition, a typical reaction is to “pass it on” especially if it’s coming from a supervisor. Just like kindness begets kindness, rudeness begets rudeness.

Customers who are on the receiving end of rude behavior tend to not come back. They may tell their families or friends about the experience, but rarely do they report the behavior to a manager. In addition, customers who witness rude behavior respond the same way; even if they are not on the receiving end, if they see it, they don’t like it and don’t come back.

The costs start adding up quickly. Just think about it. The cost of losing a customer, the cost of having to redo something that was mishandled by a rude employee, the cost of losing and having to replace a good employee who’s just had enough, and the cost of negative word-of-mouth from angry customers.

In addition, there’s the cost of your managers taking the time to try and change the behavior.

What to do?

First, make sure your employees know what behavior you expect of them. And make sure your managers and supervisors set a proper example! Make it clear that rude behavior will not be tolerated, period. This includes tone of voice, facial expressions, and verbal or written comments. Next, provide proper training on how you want your employees to deal with customers and each other. Provide specific examples and do practice runs. Make it clear that if they have questions or concerns, they should bring them up immediately.

Last, if rude behavior persists, even if it’s a long-time employee, you must take action. If they won’t change their behavior, you must let them go. The old way of justifying the issue, “…oh that’s just how he communicates…” does not fly anymore. It’s the only impartial action to take for the sake of your other employees and your customers. It’s kind of like that “bad apple” spoiling the whole barrel. Take care of the problem immediately so it doesn’t infect others.

Let’s all just practice a little common courtesy and be nice to each other!


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