Is It Possible to "Build a Civil Workplace"?

Wherever we work or whatever we do, productivity, efficiency and overall performance demand civility.
Civility simply makes good business sense: People do their best work where they can actually get work done – as opposed to dealing with all the other toxic stuff that gets in the way of productive work.
Even before I founded ELI and started teaching Civil Treatment® harassment and discrimination training, our flagship training program 24 years ago, I knew that productivity, efficiency and performance suffer in uncivil, abusive and non-compliant environments. On the other hand, maintaining a civil workplace is absolutely essential to the long-term success of any organization.
This week, one day after Labor Day, we launched our new tagline – Build a Civil Workplace – and a new ELI home page to better reflect our mission and values.
What does a civil workplace look like?
In our view, a civil workplace is one that is legal and ethical and where managers and team members understand their roles and responsibilities in avoiding harassment, discrimination and other workplace minefields like wage and hour violations and ethical catastrophes. It’s also one where people work together in an inclusive and collegial climate where concerns are raised and addressed before rather than after disasters happen.
Like anywhere else, it is a daily challenge for all of us at ELI to practice what we teach, while helping our clients “Build a Civil Workplace.”
Whether it’s in my organization or yours, learning must be a key part of the process of building a civil workplace culture. At ELI, it starts with every employee, no matter what level, going through the same Civil Treatment® training that we teach our clients. No exceptions.
Learning must be an ongoing process that doesn’t just require delivering and documenting check-the-box training requirements to brandish as part of a defense against lawsuits or business disasters that could have been more readily avoided in the first place.
Learning that’s simple and makes a difference
In order to be effective, legal and ethical learning must provide certain skills, behavioral models and basic knowledge. The goal: Create workplaces in which everyone is engaged and focused on learning how to apply the lessons they’ve been taught.
What is taught must have an ongoing impact on daily behavior that matters to people as they do their work every day. What is communicated must be easy to understand, must apply during every workday and must reach people in the classroom, desktop and through new learning technologies.
Finally, building a civil workplace requires a fundamental commitment from the organization’s leadership. Leaders can’t just tell others what to do. Away from formal learning environments, leaders must apply key principles themselves and talk about workplace behavior and ethics as part of their workaday business activities.
At ELI, we take satisfaction from clients who have worked with us for many years who have successfully defended and warded off claims. But we take even greater satisfaction from helping companies build more productive workplaces across a range of industries – from healthcare, to energy, to food products, to government, to telecommunications and beyond.
So yes, civil workplaces are possible – and they are the most profitable and productive enterprises and organizations anywhere. This enhanced performance goes directly to the bottom line, to the quality of care, to the level of safety, to improved efficiency, and sharpened competitiveness.
We want to hear from you. What does a civil workplace look like and what does it take to build one? We also welcome your feedback on our new tagline and new home page in the comments section below.

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