Korn Ferry Survey Shows Negative Personal and Business Impacts of Rude Workplace

Los Angeles, May 4, 2023 – A new Korn Ferry survey reveals that beyond creating hurt feelings, a rude workplace environment can have a large negative effect on business.

Nearly all the professionals who responded (91%) say that rudeness in the workplace has a negative impact on a company’s performance, with 52% saying it has a significant negative impact.

More than three-quarters of respondents (81%) say they find it difficult to focus after someone has done or said something rude, and the same percentage have considered quitting a job due to a rude colleague or boss.

The survey also found that in some cases, bad behavior is tolerated in the workplace. More than half (57%) say that if a star performer was also rude to colleagues, their company wouldn’t do anything because that person gets results.

“Increasingly, companies have to pay attention not only to what gets done, but how it gets done. A culture that ignores rude interactions will eventually pay the price with a damaged reputation and departing employees,” said Tamara Rodman, a senior client partner in Korn Ferry’s Culture, Change and Communication practice.

The study also found that the prevalence of rude behavior is on the rise. Sixty-percent of respondents say that compared to pre-pandemic, their colleagues are more rude today, and 59% say working remotely makes it easier to be rude (e.g. interrupting on calls, not returning emails, multi-tasking during virtual meetings).

“Professionals have had an extended period of lacking face-to-face exchanges, and that can contribute to people forgetting how to be civilized to one another,” says Rodman. “It doesn’t matter if people are interacting remotely or in person, it’s critical that co-workers, managers and executives demand civility in the workplace.”

More than half of the respondents (54%) say that if a colleague did or said something rude, they’d let that person know the behavior upset them.

About the survey: The Korn Ferry survey of 595 professionals took place in late April 2023

Survey responses

What would your company do if a star performer was also rude to colleagues? 

Nothing – they get results                              57%

Reprimand them                                             35%

Fire them                                                           8%


Have you ever considered quitting a job due to a rude colleague or boss? 

Yes                                                                 81%                                                       

No                                                                   19%


How much of a negative impact does rudeness in the workplace have on a company’s performance?

Significant impact                                           52%

Some impact                                                   39%

No impact                                                       9%


Compared to pre-pandemic, are your colleagues more rude or less rude to each other today? 

More rude                                                       60%                                                               

Less rude                                                       40%


Does working remotely make it easier for colleagues to be rude (e.g. interrupting on calls, not returning emails, multi-tasking during virtual meetings)? 

Yes to a great extent                                      17%                                              

Yes to some extent                                         42%                  

No                                                                   41%


Have you found it difficult to focus on work after someone says or does something rude? 

Yes                                                                81%                                                              

No                                                                   19%


If a colleague did or said something rude, would you let them know their behavior upset you?

Yes                                                                 54%                                                              

No                                                                   46%


About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We work with our clients to design optimal organization structures, roles, and responsibilities. We help them hire the right people and advise them on how to reward and motivate their workforce while developing professionals as they navigate and advance their careers.

Media Contact:

Tracy Kurschner



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Dan Gugler