Four in 10 Workers Say They Do Not Fit in with Peers

Rude, gross and inappropriate behavior by co-workers and managers is not the exception in the workplace, research suggests. A similar study on the effects of rudeness finds that when teams witness incivility, negative thoughts dominate and diminish productivity for the larger group.

Human resources ... we have a problem. Behavior in the workplace varies widely, but it can make some individuals believe they don't fit in with the culture of their organization. When almost four in 10 (39 percent) of nearly 5,000 survey respondents of a November CareerBuilder survey say they do not feel they fit in with co-workers, you know something is off.

IT ranked in the top five industries where workers feel disconnected and put off by their co-workers. Topping the list of industries with workers who feel they don't fit in are health care, sales and professional services, and leisure and hospitality services.
"Today's workplace is made up of many different types of people and sometimes behavior can come across as being crazy or inappropriate for the office," CareerBuilder Vice President Rosemary Haefner said in a statement.
"Since almost 90 percent of major organizations have some form of team structure and so many types of jobs require close interaction with people, it [inappropriate behavior and rudeness] definitely has an effect," Amir Erez, University of Florida management professor, said in a July 2009 UF News article. "Even an isolated incidence of rude behavior by a 'bad apple' stands to influence observers and 'spoil the barrel.'"
Erez and Christine Porath, a management professor at University of Southern California, have led in-depth studies on the effects of bad behavior on the job, with an emphasis on the negative effects on teams who witness incivility. In one study, workers who witnessed bad behavior by another team member in front of everyone saw a marked increase in negative responses for the majority of the team. When asked what a brick could be used for, some responses were outright violent in nature, including being told that it could be used "as a weapon to 'kill people,' 'beat people up,' 'trip someone' and 'throw through a window,'" said the UF News article.
Why do workers feel like they don't fit in, exactly? Well, it appears that some behavior grosses people out, annoys them and makes social interactions very uncomfortable. Take a gander at what goes on daily in the workplace, according to eyewitness accounts documented by CareerBuilder:

  • Co-worker ate the cheese off the pizza box at a company meeting.
  • Co-worker talks openly about flatulence.
  • Co-worker in the cubicle next to me wears 3-D glasses with the lenses removed.
  • Co-worker repeatedly bangs a mallet on the table for no apparent reason.
  • Co-worker whistles 8 hours a day.
  • Co-worker chews tobacco and spits it into empty soda bottles.
  • Former boss brought a baby sippy cup to a meeting and started drinking out of it.
  • Co-worker cleaned fingernails using a counterpart's business card while sitting in their office.

"Communication is key to dealing with co-workers' behavior that may be impacting your ability to produce good work-for whatever reason," Haefner said. "It is important to identify why their behavior is bothering you. Often, having a professional conversation with your co-worker will solve the problem and allow everyone to work in harmony."
Haefner advises talking in private with the individual who is offending you, or if necessary, getting your manager or human resources representative involved.