- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Office incivility is unpopular, indeed. It’s a well-mannered workplace we crave, according to a new survey that reveals badly behaving colleagues can put a dent in productivity.

The biggest no-no? Profanity. It was cited by 91 percent of the respondents as the worst professional behavior in findings released yesterday by Randstand USA, an Atlanta-based employment consultant.

Using a snotty tone with co-workers ranked a distant second, cited by 44 percent. Unwise boss behaviors followed — 37 percent were irked by a public reprimand and 34 percent by unnecessary micromanaging.

Additional unruly behaviors had much to do with volume. Nearly one-third — 32 percent — of respondents were vexed by loud talkers, while 30 percent cited the unwelcome serenade of ringing cell phones as their greatest annoyance.

An additional 22 percent condemned the use of speakerphones in public areas, while 11 percent were weary of colleagues who rambled on about their personal affairs. Last, but not least, nine percent resented co-workers enamored of their Blackberrys, claiming PDAs had no place in a meeting.

Dealing with misbehavior takes time — and time is money.

“Employees are focusing on productivity, and they are looking to their colleagues and employers to limit excessive distractions,” observed Genia Spencer of Randstand, which conducted the survey of 2,318 adults between Feb. 17 and 21.

It also revealed a conscientious streak among American workers. According to the survey, 91 percent do not call in sick to play office hooky, 38 percent don’t take a lunch break, a third work overtime without additional compensation and 31 percent work on Sundays.

Others are charting the effects of an impolite office in the meantime.

There’s a distinct “etiquette advantage” in business according to Peter Post — great-grandson of manners maven Emily Post — who writes a syndicated newspaper column on the subject and authored a 1999 guide to productive office manners.

He advised that it boils down to “common sense coupled with consideration of others.”

A spate of German and British companies require their employees to attend office-etiquette classes, “embracing politeness as the best way to improve competitiveness,” according to Personnel Today magazine.

An ill-mannered workplace can prove “devastating” to business, according to Christine Pearson, a University of Western Ontario psychologist who surveyed 775 North American workers to find that over half had lost work time worrying over rude encounters with colleagues.

Almost half — 46 percent — considered resigning to avoid the upsetting situation, while 37 percent said they were less committed to an employer who tolerated such behavior. An additional 22 percent decreased their efforts at work, and 12 percent actually quit.

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