Weber survey

In an increasingly uncivil society, many people are finding a safe haven at work, according to a study just released by Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate, in partnership with KRC Research.

“Civility in America: A Nationwide Survey” gathered the opinions of 1,481 U.S. adults 18 and over on their experiences of uncivil behavior both on the job site and in society at large, as well as on the level of diversity and inclusivity to be found in their workplaces.

A large majority of respondents—93 percent—said that there was a civility problem in society today, with 69 percent saying that it is a major problem. Those numbers hold steady with those obtained in the December 2016 study, and the figures remain pretty consistent going back to the 2010 edition. The average number of uncivil encounters that respondents report having experienced per week has risen from 6.2 in January 2016 to 10.2 in 2018.

The general tone and level of civility in the workplace, however, are on the upswing, with 92 percent of respondents with coworkers saying that they worked in either a “somewhat civil” (44 percent) or a “very civil” (48 percent) environment. That’s a full six percent hike from December 2016, and all of the increase comes from respondents who called their workplace “very civil” (up from 42 percent).

In addition, the number of respondents who said they had experienced uncivil behavior at a present or past job continues to drop. While 43 percent said they’d had such an experience in the 2011 survey, that number was down to 29 percent in the 2018 edition.

The level of civility in a workplace starts at the top for many workers. While 49 percent of those who worked in a civil workplace said that the leadership where they work is civil, only 10 percent of respondents from uncivil workplaces said leadership at their companies was civil. The importance of company leadership is underlined by the fact that while 48 percent of those in uncivil workplaces said they did not trust company management to handle complaints about harassment or incivility, that figure drops to 13 percent for those who said they worked in a civil environment.

The greater likelihood that a diverse and inclusive workplace is also more civil is another of the survey’s findings. While 85 percent of those in civil workplaces said that they worked in a diverse and inclusive environment, only 63 percent of those in uncivil workplaces made that claim.

When it comes to strategies for improving the workplace environment, increased civility training and considering incivility as a form of harassment come in at the top of the list.

“We have to remind those who lead and manage that they cannot afford to become civility-complacent,” says Weber Shandwick president of global public affairs Pam Jenkins. “The stakes are high and employees are looking to leadership to not only ensure a civil workplace, but to be civility stewards.”