Incivility and Low Productivity Go Hand in Hand at Any Workplace

4 Feb 2020

Incivility and Low Productivity Go Hand in Hand at Any Workplace


Entebbe, UGANDA (Friday January 31, 2020), In support of the Secretary-General’s initiative that aims at increasing awareness, engaging dialogue and promoting action to improve the quality of workplace behaviour, Entebbe has had its second round of Civility Cafés encouraging staff to contribute their unique perspectives and to play an important role in the evolution of the UN workplace culture. The Civility Cafés are offered by the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services (UNOMS) as part of the Civility CaféS which the Office is rolling out to reach staff around the world.

“Any workplace culture starts with each one of its staff members” noted Saner Ahmedov, the new Conflict Resolution Officer supporting the Regional Ombudsman in Entebbe, “this is the case in any workplace, not only in the United Nations”, he added, having worked in other European-based entities before recently joining the Organisation.

According to statistics from UNOMS, about 40 per cent of the various issues reported from staff members are due to incivility in the workplace. Higher levels of perceived incivility in the workplace were strongly associated with higher levels of reported mental health symptoms. According to the 2017 staff wellbeing survey data report, 49 per cent of United Nations employees have at least one type of mental health issue but only 6 per cent of these are currently receiving treatment.

Researcher and author Lars Andersson defines workplace civility as “behaviors that help to preserve the norms for mutual respect in the workplace; civility reflects concern for others.” Incivility in the workplace can have an impact on productivity and commitment to the organization. Employees experiencing incivility may even perceive the workplace as hostile and look for work elsewhere. Awareness of positive ways of resolving conflict and employees being civil to one another can help build teamwork, enhance staff engagement and motivation thus leading to increased productivity.

In another research led by Pearson and Porath involving 800 managers and employees in 17 different Companies, uncivil behavior was associated with a drop-in productivity. The researchers’ publication entitled ‘The Cost of Bad Behavior’ depicts even more widespread repercussions.

It’s evident that there’s much to be gained by raising awareness about civility in the workplace.  In this regard, the Ombudsman’s Office intends to build on the initiative by offering more workshops to staff in Entebbe and in the region in 2020.  Entebbe, along with other duty stations in the world, will have its next round of Civility Cafés in April. 

In addition to the Civility Cafés, the half day workshop on Community, Civility, Communication (C3) will continue to be offered.  Managers and their teams can benefit from this highly inspiring and uplifting workshop which, according to those who have experienced it already, is unlike any other currently offered in the Organisation.