Lack of civility at work, is not acceptable, this is a mandatory obligation. “From the moment you have an employment contract you have certain obligations, among them being to provide a diligent work service,” explains Caroline Henri, CHRP, senior human resources adviser at Perreault & Assoc.
This obligation, governed by Section 2088 of the Quebec Civil Code, includes civility at work. “These are rules of good conduct established by the company, such as being on time for work, respecting the deadlines set for performing a task, saying “Hello” and “thank you” and raising the hand before speaking in meetings,” Ms. Henri points out.
The use of coarse language, cutting someone off while they are speaking, being aggressive or contemptuous as well as speaking ill of coworkers can constitute behaviours that violate this obligation.
Lack of civility or harassment?
Less known than the concept of harassment, the concept of civility is much broader.
To be harassment, behaviours must be repeated and systematic. A lack of civility at work may be one-off and does not necessarily affect the integrity of a person. But be careful, it still constitutes an irritant within the company!
Even if it is not malicious, failing to greet your superior or colleagues can eventually lead to a toxic work environment, Ms. Henri stresses. “Beware of emails,” she adds. “Without a polite salutation such as “hello” they can be interpreted as orders.”
Avoid bursting into the office of your boss your coworkers, especially if it’s to talk to them about your frustrations, she advises. Choosing the right time can make all the difference.
Could lack of civility at work lead to dismissal?
In some cases, lack of civility is related to the inability to provide a service of work, which could lead to dismissal. But the employee cannot be dismissed for the slightest misconduct.
Don’t forget that the employer also has obligations towards its employees. In particular, it has to ensure that employees have a good understanding of the company’s policies and that the expectations set are clear. When a breach is reported, the employee must be informed of the risk of dismissal and a reasonable time given to improve.
Companies benefit from setting up a clear policy on civility and harassment at work, Ms. Henri believes. Encouraging civility at work is an excellent way to prevent harassment, she says.