The secret ingredient for employee retention: Workplace civility

25 May 2023

In today’s global talent market, employee retention is a top priority for organizations. Personal development and compensation are primary influencers in retaining employees, as previously highlighted, but workplace civility is equally important.

Today, I continue our series on employee retention. 

The inspiration behind this article stems from discussions with fellow decision-makers across diverse industries. These interactions have highlighted the most critical factors that influence employee retention within different contexts.

The Importance of Workplace Civility

Given the competitive nature of the Talent search and selection market, companies cannot afford to fail to provide the climate and culture that their employees require to remain engaged in a civil workplace environment, nor can they afford to overlook the importance of employee happiness. 

Danish researcher and Author Lars Louis Anderson defines workplace civility as “Behaviors that help preserve the norms of mutual respect in the workplace and which reflect concern for others.” 

Bridging the Unprecedented Generational Divide 

Today’s workplaces are witnessing an unprecedented phenomenon in human history: five generations interacting physically and remotely in different geographical and cultural contexts. 

This poses a challenge to universal workplace civility because resistance to it can cut across all ages and employee demographics in conscious, unconscious, direct, and indirect ways, posing a significant threat to employee retention. 

In today’s workplace, civility is a top priority. Focusing on DEI, sustainability, effective communication, and ongoing personal development are all part of this.

These factors are essential for the most recent entrants to the workplace, Gen Z. They bear a direct relationship to their productivity, engagement, and work-life balance. 

New generations of employees have a lower tolerance for incivility; if they detect it, they will begin looking for alternatives immediately. And no organization can afford to lose its appeal to the Zees if it wants to stay in business in the next decade

This generation will reward employers who value development and Civility today and tomorrow.

Measuring Civility with Predictive Analytics

Billions of social media data points were analyzed to forecast the future of recruiting and retaining employees through the use of generative AI and predictive analytics technology. Factors influencing workplace civility were consistently identified as top contributors to high levels of positive emotions, task engagement, relationships, meaning, purpose, accomplishment, and progress.  

Because workplace civility can have a positive or negative impact on your organization’s image and employer attractiveness rate, many organizations have begun implementing methods to consistently and effectively measure workplace civility, such as tracking behavioural indicators, pulse polls, social media monitoring, and semi-annual surveys. 

There will almost certainly be pockets of incivility and resistance to efforts in any organization, and wise leaders must be prepared to deal with it. 


Addressing Incivility and Resistance

Leaders have observed how resistance typically stems from learned behaviors and experiences, fear of marginalization as a result of the majority’s focus on diversity, misconceptions, or simply a lack of lived experience, among other things.

Addressing incivility, which has been described as the “gateway drug to workplace harassment,” is a matter of survival for many organizations, and they are fully aware of its impact on their teams, allocating significant resources to address the challenge.


The Ongoing Journey to Civility

The path to civility is a journey, not a destination. It is not accomplished through a series of events or operational initiatives; in fact, it is never entirely “achieved.” It is an ongoing process with ups and downs due to internal and external changing influencers in the workplace. 

Employees who believe the organization’s goals do not align with their values or that their leaders publicly communicate a different message than what happens behind closed doors are more likely to quit. Most employees do not usually voice their frustrations, and it is their leader’s job to spot those insecurities before they get overwhelming, to minimize their teams’ frustration and work methodically towards implementing civility in the workplace.


AIMS International: Your Partner in Employee Retention

Our global teams at AIMS International have successfully supported organizations in diverse industries through expert consultants in more than 50 geographical markets. We design tailored approaches for each sector, company, and team, listening, analyzing, evaluating, and empowering teams to expand resources, pursue new goals, and rebuild energy and broader relationships.

Ready to tackle employee retention challenges and enhance your employer’s attractiveness? Contact AIMS International today and let us help you develop a broaden-and-build collective mindset for your organization.

Key Takeaways:

  1.  Employee retention is a top priority in today’s global talent market, with workplace civility playing a crucial role.
  2.  Workplace civility is defined as behaviors that preserve mutual respect and show concern for others.
  3. The unprecedented generational divide in the workplace poses a challenge to universal civility and employee retention.
  4. Gen Z employees have a lower tolerance for incivility and will seek alternatives if they detect it.
  5. Addressing incivility is essential for organizational survival, and leaders must allocate resources to tackle this challenge.
  6. Leaders must identify and address employee insecurities to minimize frustration and promote civility.

About the Author:

Yasser Seoud, Managing Partner North Lead – Canada (Member of AIMS International)

Yasser Seoud is a Canadian multilingual executive who has been a Director and VP for diverse organisations in multiple geographical locations. With a global executive background, he was a decision maker for international organisations where he lived and worked in Johannesburg, Cairo, Madrid, London UK and Toronto.