Accounting: The cost of disrespect in the workplace.

March 17, 2023

The whole team facepalms together

Disrespect in the workplace costs organizations a tremendous amount of money. It is often called a hidden cost, but despite this it also is one which we all know is there.

Take a moment to think about your experiences in past jobs and consider these questions:

  • How many people have quit a job or asked to be transferred because of how they were being treated?
  • How many people have started working less or putting in less effort because of the workplace dynamics?
  • How many people ignored or avoided somebody because of how they treated others?
  • How many people have taken some time off just because of the stress of being at work?

It is estimated that 50% of turnover is due to unresolved conflict. Approximately 65% of performance problems result from strained relationships between employees, not from deficits in skills, education, or motivation. And over 75% of complaints registered at the Manitoba Human Rights Commission in 2009 were workplace-related.

Do these facts surprise you?

A disrespectful workplace can lead to:

  • Higher rate of employee absenteeism
  • Higher rate of sick leave and short-term disability leave
  • Reduced productivity and reduced profitability
  • Increase in employee turnover
  • Increase in workplace stress
  • Potential litigation costs
  • Difficulty in recruitment and retention of employees
  • Decreased workplace morale
  • Strained workplace relationships
  • Reduced corporate image and customer confidence
  • Poor public relations
  • Decrease in trust placed in management

There are evidently a lot of costs that go along with disrespect in the workplace: not just at the individual level, but also in terms of team and organizational costs. Intertwined, the impact of both good and bad behaviour spirals outward on both a human and financial level.

Illustration of a team celebrating success

Respect and disrespect impacts you, the other person, the relationship, the team, the people you serve, and of course the reputation of the organization.

Can you imagine what it would be like if we could deal with disrespectful behaviour directly and eradicate it? How much more enjoyable would work be? And how much more productive would we be as a result?

While we can all agree that this sounds like a dream come true, the question becomes: how do we get there?

The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that disrespect in the workplace is an issue. Then, we can begin unpacking the different roles within it, what is going on, and how we can interrelate in a more respectful manner.

As we’ve mentioned before, whether we’re the source, target, observer, or authority in the common drama of disrespect, we all have a role to play. How we navigate communication and action in these loaded situations shapes the culture of the shared organization, which carries potential to foster either loyalty or resentment.

It’s tricky because a behaviour of disrespect might be small and slight – so much so that you question whether or not it happened. The source in such a case might not even be aware of the slight. But either way – intentional or non-intentional – these actions that might be accepted as commonplace add up to people feeling put-down, excluded, or less-than.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of work to do, but that’s where we come in. Over the past decades, Mediation Services has been helping foster healthy work cultures in the community of Winnipeg. Now, we’ve made our proven framework the foundation for an online course, accessible to you wherever you may be in the city, province, or world.

Please join us in Building a Respectful Workplace – an online course we recommend for everyone in your company, including new hires who can enjoy its on-demand nature as part of their onboarding process. It’s an investment that we heartily believe is good for both the individuals and the organization as a whole.

Many respectful workplace trainings look at an organization’s policies and how to submit complaints, whereas this course takes a fresh approach. We aim to teach you how to do what we all want: if my behaviour offends you, tell me clearly and kindly. Let’s not wait for someone to file a complaint. Let’s engage in these moments respectfully in order to build and maintain the workplace we all want and deserve.

We are proud to offer this resource and support you in cultivating a workplace where people want to be. There are a lot of costs in running a business, and disrespect does not have to be one of them.

If you have questions,
please don’t hesitate to call.


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