Incivility on the rise? Study finds that front-line workers face increasing bad behavior
A study published in the Harvard Business Review found a sharp rise in incivility from 2012 to now
A new study published in Harvard Business Review found that incivility toward front-line workers has risen sharply since 2012.
Christine Porath, professor at Georgetown University, conducted a survey asking more than 2,000 front-line workers about rudeness they might have experienced in the workplace. Previously, in 2012, Porath conducted a different survey on customer incivility.
Porath surveyed front-line workers in industries like health care, maintenance, transportation, hospitality, food production and other public-facing jobs.
In the 2012 study, she found that “61% of respondents reported that it was not unusual for customers to behave badly, 49% believed that bad behavior from customers toward employees was more common than it was five years before, and 35% believed bad behavior from customers toward other customers was also more common.”
Since the previous 2012 study, incivility has sharply risen. 73% of respondents said that it was not unusual for customers to behave badly — a 12% increase. 76% of respondents said that they experience incivility at least once a month.
In addition to the survey, Porath also conducted interviews with respondents about the specific incivility they experienced.
Porath explained that the trend of incivility takes a real toll on people. She said that this type of incivility can negatively impact people’s emotional and physical health as well as the status of the business. Some of the factors that she found which could explain why incivility is on the rise include stress, technology, negative emotions, lack of self-awareness and weakened ties.
This isn’t the first study that found rudeness against frontline workers has increased. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, “The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the rate of injuries from violent attacks against medical professionals grew by 63% from 2011 to 2018, and hospital safety directors say that aggression against staff escalated as the COVID-19 pandemic intensified in 2020.”