A recent Rasmussen survey returned that 75% of Americans are becoming more rude and less civilized. The September 2009 survey focused on general behavior, such as is it rude to text at a public event (63% said yes it is) or is it rude for someone sitting next to you in public to be talking on a cell phone (51% said it is rude). But there is a broader connotation for business. Rude is bad business, Boston, and the insidious behavior is infecting the work place.
With unemployment up to a nineteen year high of 9.8% there are a lot of frustrated people out there. Businesses are trying to make money, as are people looking for work. But it seems that companies are viewing the unemployed as competition. Hiring managers do now have their pick of hires, it is a buyer's market for job offers. But the rising level of ill civility is as remarkable as unnecessary. Those looking for work should brush up on manners. Say "yes, sir (or ma'am)" instead of yeah. Use complete sentences when answering questions, dress appropriately (ladies, no 'flip-flops' no matter how stylish - at least the chillier weather will take care of that disgrace) and remember to send thank you notes. Simple basic (grammatical) emails for the opportunity to talk with someone speaks to your character (and may change someone's mind about hiring you) But the biggest sins are committed by human resource personnel and recruiters.
If you say in a telephone interview that you will call someone - then call him or her. This is a business conversation. The 'talk to you later' that you throw at your friends is not acceptable in a conversation where someone is looking for work. Even if you have to call just to say the person is not an appropriate fit for your company, do it. That is what you are paid for, to have the sometimes unpleasant conversations. You are dealing with people. If an applicant stated that they would call you or meet you at such a time, what would you think of them ignoring you? You would immediately conclude they were not the sort of people you want to work around you. Applicants get the same impression. If you cannot call back as agreed, that reflects very poorly on your company not just your personal work ethic. Recently that common courtesy of simply doing what you say is shamefully lacking. Just as you would not want your time wasted waiting around for someone, applicants can move on to other prospects with companies that actually live up to their PR hype of being good places to work. There are too many reports of HR departments being rude to direct applicants. It is bad for business.
Business leaders, check up on the workings of your HR or recruiters. Is their behavior truly reflective of the image you would like to project to the public? Maybe not. The challenging economic environment is no excuse to ignore the quality of reputation. Bad business cycles do eventually become good ones, and developing a reputation for being difficult to work with or for is not changed easily. No matter how may catchy slogans about how great a work environment you have on your web site, actual conditions become known to the general public fast.
Being rude, or forgetting common respect, will make the bad economy feel worse, and make the recovery that much harder. Let's start the recovery already by being more courteous now.