How to Create a Civil and Respectful Workplace

The demands of work can take a toll on employees. People get stressed when their psychological resources are stretched thin and might end up lashing out at fellow employees. Negative exchanges damage work relationships and impact the organizational bottom-line through burnout, stress, turnover, and reduced engagement. Negative exchanges are often reacted to with more negativity, resulting in even more workplace incivility.


Because workplace incivility can be so damaging to an organization, management should develop strategies to address incivility and foster a positive working environment. Workplace civility interventions are one method of improving social interactions in the work environment. However, interventions can be costly and time-consuming. Do the effects of an intervention have a lasting impact beyond the intervention period, providing a significant return on investment?

This study examined the Civility, respect, and Engagement in the Workplace (CREW) intervention, a six-month process that fosters civil interactions between employees. Participants in the intervention experienced increases in civility with decreases in workplace distress and incivility after completing CREW. These improvements continued to increase one year after the intervention ended. The participants also experienced improvements in work attitudes, although these improvements stopped after the intervention.


These findings suggest that management should consider civility interventions to address negative work environments. Not only can these interventions stop negative interactions, but positive interactions continue to increase even after the intervention, leading to lasting change and stronger organizational outcomes.


Leiter, M. P., Day, A., Oore, D. G., & Laschinger, H. K. S. (2012). Getting better and staying better: Assessing civility, incivility, distress, and job attitudes one year after a civility intervention. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 17(4), 425-434.