Incivility and bullying at work can have a significant negative impact on work performance. It is still a significant problem in many organizations and in society at large. Just this morning in the Denver Post was an article about a number of junior varsity baseball players at Columbine High School,  of all places given its history, who allegedly video recorded a racist rap routine after beating East High school in a game. For those of you not familiar with East High School, it is known for its diversity. These players were suspended for a range of days.  As a concerning example, the Columbine shootings were in part related to bullying.

This is not related to high schools as a workplace, nor just to adolescents. It continues into adulthood. There is unfortunately too much data on the results of incivility and bullying in the workplace. It can range from rude comments and insensitive actions, to physical acts including assault and battery, as well as from thoughtless intent to malicious intent; all of which result in physical or psychological harm to the recipient. The following are a quick synopsis of impact variables.

Business and personal costs to the individual

  • Business work performance problems
  • Quitting Job and Starting Over Somewhere Else
  • Stress related health costs increase
    • Stress
    • Negative emotions like fear, anger, anxiety, hatred
    • Loss of productivity to concentration issues, preoccupation with the situation, lost work time, sick time, presenteeism,
  • Shock
  • Guilt
  • Lowered self-esteem
  • Depression
  • Decreased motivation
  • Physical complaints
  • 82% of employees targeted by bullies leave the workplace.
  • 38% who leave, do so for health issues
  • 72% of disrespectful behavior is done by those in leadership positions
  • 57% of targets are women.
  • 45% of targets had stress-related health problems
  • 39% had debilitating anxiety, panic attacks, and clinical depression
  • 30% had post traumatic stress
  • Physical headaches, cardiac, aches, weight change, CFS, TMJ, skin, asthma/allergies, IBS, hair loss, fibromyalgia, high blood pressure, ulcers, fatigue.
  • Targets have a 64% chance of losing their job for no reason.
  • Despite health harm, 40% of targets never report bullying. It is even higher here.

Business cost of incivility and bullying

  • High turnover
  • Low productivity
  • Absenteeism
  • Benefits misused
  • Low morale
  • Poor public image, reputation damaged
  • Lawsuits
  • Organization’s values and policies compromised and violated
  • Financial viability reduced

For those who think incivility and bullying are over stated and not a problem, open your eyes to the following graphic on the continuum of behavior.

The Incivility Continuum

Kirsten Schwehm, PhD, Louisiana State University, topic: Civility in the Workplace. Accessed in 2013.


If you are not personally convinced that your organization needs to pay attention to the impact of incivility and bullying in your workplace the following information may help convince you and your organization to look more deeply into the reasons for addressing it through good management practices, policy, and culture changes.

Business Case for the organization to have a civil and safe environment

  • Healthier employees
  • Lower turnover
  • Higher productivity
  • Better financial viability

Business case for the individual

  • Safety
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Interaction effects with others
  • Career longevity
  • Job satisfaction
  • Positive morale

We all are interdependent with each other at all levels. Practically speaking, we all make our living together. What affects one of us, directly or indirectly affects all of us.

Remember to stay calm, centered and serene in your interactions with all those you meet today!

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., CEO & Psychologist