“Keep a Civil Tongue in Your Head!” Civility in the Workplace
Ever wonder what keeps employees showing up daily (besides a paycheck)? What makes work satisfying depends on the person. Some people are excited to learn new things; some like to engage with a customer and make that sale; some show up because the coffee is better than at home. For me, the people I work with, and the way we treat each other, are the things that keep me showing up each day!
In my career, I’ve done exit interviews with hundreds of people who’ve decided it’s time to be satisfied somewhere else. More money, a better job title, better work/life balance are some of the reasons people have given me for why they’re leaving. And some, I’m sorry to say, have left because of how they were treated by a manager, a co-worker, or even a customer.
More recently, I’ve gotten to do stay interviews. The company wanted to be proactive and check in on the people who they most wanted to stay with the organization. Guess what? The primary reason everyone gave for staying with the company was the people they worked with!
Let’s be honest; we all want to hang around with people we like. And it’s natural to like people who agree with us. So, what do we do when we disagree? The answer is simple, but maybe not easy.
We can agree to disagree. But more importantly, to quote John Wooden, six-time NCAA College Basketball Coach of the Year, “We can agree to disagree, but we don’t need to be disagreeable.”
As a business owner, you play a crucial role in establishing a civil workplace. If you currently have an employee handbook, you probably cover topics like anti-harassment and standards of conduct. If you don’t have an employee handbook, please let us know at or visit www.peopleworx.io, and we’d be happy to help you develop one customized to your business needs. With the appropriate policies in place, when you see behaviors like a screaming match between two employees on different sides of a hot-button issue, you can use those policies to enforce civility in the workplace.
But even without a handbook or policies, you can and should expect people to treat each other respectfully. Your employees have to work together, regardless of their personal beliefs or opinions. If they can’t, then productivity suffers. And we all know stuff rolls downhill, so check your own behavior and make sure you don’t use your employees as a captive audience to your own points of view.
As the sign in my office says, work hard and be nice to people. Those things are not mutually exclusive.
Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.