Work Relationships

11 October 2022

3 min.

Incivility at work: What is it and what are the impacts

The work climate and interpersonal relations within a team play a major role in work performance. Indeed, it has been shown that teams that perform well are those whose members show courtesy and kindness towards each other. But in reality:


One in two people say they regularly witness incivility in their workplace and 96% of people admit to having experienced it in their career!

Although incivility is less severe or intense than harassment, it can still have severe impacts on work teams.

What is incivility?

Incivility is a lack of manners and respect for others. It is behaviour that violates the standards of mutual respect that are established in the workplace.

Incivility can take many forms, including:

  • Making derogatory remarks
  • Raising your voice
  • Spreading rumours
  • Not paying attention in a meeting (e.g., checking your phone or email during the meeting)
  • Leaving the work environment dirty
  • Interrupting
  • Dominating the conversation
  • Leaving a colleague out of a group event
  • Arriving late without apologizing

What about harassment?

Harassment is defined by Quebec’s Act respecting labour standards (Bill 143, section 81.18) as “vexatious behaviour in the form of repeated and hostile or unwanted conduct, which affects the dignity or the psychological or physical integrity of an employee and which results in a harmful work environment for the employee.

10 %

Harassment accounts for about 10% of workplace complaints.

It may not seem like much, but that doesn’t mean the balance of complaints isn’t there.

Big impacts on the teams

At one time or another, we have all been around people with “strong personalities” who take up a lot of space in a team and who stand out because of their negative attitude. Often, we don’t dare intervene for fear of making the situation worse or because others don’t intervene either. We tell ourselves that this is the way it is and that it won’t change.

The discomfort created by incivility in the workplace can be very great, and these impacts can be major, not only on the teams’ wellbeing, but also on their productivity.

Here are some statistics that speak for themselves:

  • 63% of respondents wasted time at work to avoid the person with disruptive behaviours;
  • 80% wasted time worrying;
  • 38% have intentionally decreased the quality of their work;
  • 78% say their commitment to the organization has decreased;
  • 48% have decreased their effort at work;
  • 46% have considered changing jobs;
  • 2% have changed jobs to avoid the instigator.

Incivility negatively affects a range of elements, including performance, motivation, creativity, cognitive abilities, altruism, and physical and emotional health.

Simply put, incivility first impacts team members, which in turn impacts the organization.

Everyone‘s business

From courtesy to collaboration to good manners, it is everyone’s responsibility to demonstrate civility and respect in the workplace. However, it is up to the organization to lead by example, to establish and enforce clear rules of behavior, and to support their employees in their efforts to create a better work environment. Boostalab can help you initiate the changes that will allow you to establish a work climate that is conducive to the development of your employees and the achievement of your objectives.

Pearson, Christine; Porath, Christine (2009). The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It. New York : Penguin, 240 p.

Soft skill

Accompany your team towards civility