Incivility and Employee Engagement

Posted on February 3, 2013 by TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)


Take a moment to reflect on the relationship you have with your supervisor. Are there defining features that make this relationship positive? What about the relationship makes you feel tense or uncomfortable at work? The relationships we have with our supervisors can greatly impact how we feel on the job, employee engagement at the forefront.

Reio and Sanders-Reio (2011) examined the impact of supervisor and subordinate incivility on one’s engagement level at work. Over half of employees experience some level of incivility between their supervisors. Workplace incivility refers to any behaviors or actions that cause negative feels. Most common in the workplace, are comments that are made that may come off as rude, insensitive, or undermining. Because this statistic is high, there is reason for us to focus on how employees’ levels of engagement may be negatively impacted.

Is your best friend someone that is rude to you or makes you feel bad about yourself? Hopefully, the answer to this question was no. Most of us tend to surround ourselves with people that make us feel good about ourselves and build us up rather than tear us down. If all of our friends were insensitive to us we would have reason to feel down. Take this thought into the workplace. When we work with people that use words or actions to make us feel less of ourselves, this can have a severe impact on our level of engagement as well as how we feel about our organization.

Recommendations for making employees feel that their supervisors are part of their team:

• Build trust: A healthy amount of trust between supervisor and employee can help employees in turn trust the organization.

• Strengthen comfort levels: While you may never be best friends with your supervisor, having a healthy relationship allows for easier communication and positive reciprocal interactions. Sometimes, building these relationships just takes time and opportunity. Team bonding opportunities can be a great chance for supervisors and employees to feel better connected to one another.

• Take work out: All work and no play can be detrimental to the relationships a supervisor has with employees. Sometimes stepping away from the office environment allows employees to relax and open up.

Do you believe supervisor/employee relationships contribute to employee engagement?

Reference: Reio, T., & Sanders-Reio, J. (2011). Does supervisor and coworker incivility really matter? Advances in Developing Human Resources, 13, 462-478.

TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

About TNS Consulting Team (via Scott Spayd)

Great companies know that it takes highly engaged employees to retain customers and make their brand promise come alive. To make the connection between your employees, customers and brand, you need a partner with deep expertise across several areas. Only KANTAR TNS has over two decades of employee survey experience, as well as access to the consultative and research resources of the world’s largest customer satisfaction benchmark database and brand analytics research. Whether you have 200 employees or 200,000, Kantar TNS has the expertise and the advanced measurement, reporting, and follow up tools you need to deliver on your employee and customer brand promise.

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