Building the civilized workplace

Human Resource Management International Digest

ISSN: 0967-0734

Article publication date: 23 October 2007




Sutton, R. (2007), "Building the civilized workplace", Human Resource Management International Digest, Vol. 15 No. 7.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Building the civilized workplace

Building the civilized workplace

Sutton R. The McKinsey Quarterly (USA), 2007, No. 2, Start page: 31, No. of pages: 9

Purpose – To set out the business case for eliminating abusive behavior at work. Design/methodology/approach – States that psychological abuse is surprisingly widespread in the workplace. Notes that such mistreatment is likely to leave people feeling humiliated and belittled and to exact a substantial human and financial toll on the business. Observes that in addition to reducing the job satisfaction, productivity and mental and physical health of the victim, demeaning behavior affects those who witness the incident. Adds that where the leaders of an organization acquire a reputation as “mean-spirited jerks”, it can drive away potential employees and shake investor confidence. Presents a list of potential costs resulting from workplace bullying, described as the TCJ, or “total cost of jerks”, setting out the consequences for the organization, management and individuals including the perpetrator. Argues that leaders can take steps to develop a workplace where demeaning behavior is not tolerated. Identifies five related practices that can be used to enforce a no-jerks rule: making the rule public and openly identifying and naming the behavior; applying the rule in hiring and firing policies and decisions; training employees in “constructive confrontation”; applying the rule to customers and clients; and managing “little moments” that could otherwise escalate into big problems. Warns that emotions such as disdain, anger and contempt are contagious and that once displayed, will cause others to respond in a similar way, so creating a vicious circle. Originality/value – A guide to eliminating unpleasant and damaging attitudes and behavior in the workplace. ISSN: 0047-5394 Reference: 36AN298

Keywords: Bullying, Management attitudes, Working conditions, Job satisfaction, Employee turnover, Organizational performance

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