Rude employees mean loss of business

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It seems logical that every employee would purpose to show respect and courtesy to customers. For any business, lack of politeness can actually detract from the bottom line. Moreover, it’s not just about respect for the customers. Surprisingly, it also involves employees being rude to fellow employees.

Does incivility seem to be on the rise? We sure see it woven into many TV sit-coms and we laugh at it. A Hollywood star is big on the 6 p.m. news after using Twitter to mock a flight attendant for doing her job. We call a help line, reach someone in India who, rather than offering to solve our problem, tersely says we should handle it online. Not to mention, of course, the incredible incivility of national politics these days!

A recent study cited in BusinessNewsDaily found that 65 percent of 1,000 adults surveyed said they considered incivility a major problem; 55 percent believed incivility in America would only get worse over the next few years (that’s up from 39 percent the previous year); and 78 percent said that civility training should be offered in schools. The online survey was conducted by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate with KRC Research last May.

More to the point, 69 percent of the respondents said that if they encounter rude or uncivil behavior, they’d go somewhere else. And, here’s a business back-breaker: nearly 60 percent said they would be sure to spread the word on the rude behavior experienced at the business. Ouch! With today’s Internet, Facebook, Twitter, etc., it’s no idle threat.

Also on point, employee-to-employee rudeness can be a problem. Businesses are negatively affected by incivility within their own ranks. And, it’s likely a contributing factor to the incivility toward customers. The research found 43 percent said they’ve experienced uncivil acts at work, and 38 percent believed the workplace is becoming increasingly disrespectful.

Christine Porath, a professor of management at Georgetown University, told BusinessNewsDaily that studies show when employees are rude to each other, customers are less likely to do repeat business. The finding holds true even if the rude behavior involves a supervisor reprimanding an underling for treating customers badly. “Even when the first person was being rude to a customer, customers didn’t like seeing a manager treat that employee badly,” Porath explained.

As a result of the apparent trend toward incivility, 67 percent of those surveyed said there is a need for civility training in the workplace. “The findings underscore the need to promote employee civility and train employees to treat one another well,” Porath said.

Lastly, rudeness can even trump incompetence! Respondents indicated they were much more likely to have negative feelings about a company after encountering a rude employee than an incompetent one.

“It’s important for leaders to look at what is the norm within the organization and set zero tolerance expectations for rudeness,” advises Porath.


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