Public Release: 

'The Cost of Bad Behavior'

Authors offer businesses a chance to save serious money, just by being nice

University of Southern California

Rudeness in the workplace comes with a hefty price tag, according to "The Cost of Bad Behavior: How Incivility Is Damaging Your Business and What to Do About It," a new book by Christine Porath, an assistant professor of management at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business and Christine Pearson, a professor of management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management.

Job stress in the United States accounts for $300 billion in lost work time as an uncivil workplace reduces productivity, the authors found. The price tag? Workers who are treated rudely spend time looking for other jobs or helping others to do so, lose valuable work time worrying about the incident, and intentionally decrease their work effort - in other words, they slack off.

This is compounded by potentially spending big bucks in lawsuits and elevated health care costs. The loss of good employees - even with a national unemployment rate hovering near double-digits - is still high, with the cost of an employee exit at about 150 percent of a mid-management salary, in addition to lost talent. How does a firm tackle bad behavior?

"It starts at the top," says Porath, who teaches executives how to avoid the pitfalls of workplace incivility through USC Marshall's MBA Program for Professionals and Managers.

The book offers solutions that well-functioning companies such as Cisco Systems and Los Angeles-based law firm O'Melveny & Myers employ to create a civil workplace. Among them:

  • Set zero tolerance expectations.
  • Establish norms for all employees, including managers and executives, to live by.
  • Weed out trouble early in the employee hiring process.

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To learn more about "The Cost of Bad Behavior" or to arrange an interview with Dr. Porath, please contact media relations at the USC Marshall School of Business: Evy Jacobson or Anne Bergman at (213) 740-5552, or evy.jacobson@marshall.usc.edu or anne.bergman@marshall.usc.edu.

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