Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Whistle While You Work

One of the best parts of my job is lunch. Our large conference room does double duty as the lunch table & the LLWL Gang tries to break bread together whenever possible. In fact, like our physician clients who turn off the phones at lunch, we generally don't answer the phones during lunch. It's our time to discuss the news and gossip of the day, to relax and catch up on what's happening with each other.

Luckily, the atmosphere in our office is almost always pleasant. We occasionally argue about the temperature in the office (too hot, too cold), but otherwise we all like what we do & who we do it with. As I've said before:

We have a group of female attorneys, specializing in various aspects of health care and corporate law, practicing together under one roof (and a funky roof at that) in suburban Philly. We all get along and mostly enjoy our practices (and practicing together). It's the kind of work environment everyone should have, but is, unfortunately, rare -- especially in the legal profession.

The value of that cannot be overstated. It certainly shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that rudeness and bad behavior can infect an office environment. As a recent study notes, It Pays to Be Nice:

Your mother was right: You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. Even in corporate America, where being nice can save a company millions of dollars.

USC Marshall School of Business professor Christine Porath discovered that employee rudeness hurts the bottom line while researching The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It. She co-wrote the book, which was published on July 9, with Christine Pearson, a professor of management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Porath and Pearson state that job stress in the United States accounts for $300 billion in losses, as an uncivil workplace reduces productivity and workers spend time looking for other jobs or helping others to do so. In addition, according to Porath and Pearson’s research, 80 percent of employees who were victims of insults or bullying in the workplace lost valuable work time worrying about the incident, and 78 percent said their commitment to the organization declined.

* * * *

Porath, along with University of Florida management professor Amir Erez, also employed scientific experiments, discovering that “people literally did not perform as well, weren’t as creative and became more dysfunctional and aggressive” when someone was rude to them, Porath said.

But the impact of rudeness (defined in the book as ranging from “taking credit for others’ efforts” to throwing a temper tantrum) didn’t end there, as the authors discovered that even witnesses to an incident where someone was bullied had a negative effect. And if a customer witnesses incivility, that customer decides to not re-patronize the business 50 percent of the time.
See also, Study: Workplace rudeness is contagious.

Lucky for us, smiles are contagious too.

12 comments:

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