New research shows a link between mistreatment in the workplace and employees' feelings of isolation and embarrassment and experts say companies need to address incivility to ensure workers feel valued.

The recently published data suggests that workers’ sense of belonging and job security are impacted by consistent exposure to bad behaviors like rudeness and being ignored or put down, especially when it comes for a person in a position of power.

“The most significant finding is that even low level forms of mistreatment can embarrass targets, and can also threaten their feelings of belonging, which affects both their sense of job security and their physical well-being. Moreover, these negative consequences can persist for an average of three days after they occurred,” said Sandy Hershcovis, lead researcher from the Haskayne School of Business. “It’s also important to note that incivility is more embarrassing when it comes from someone who is powerful, and that the powerful exacerbate the already negative effects of incivility.”

According to the research, people can also feel physical symptoms like stomach issues, sleeplessness and headaches from persistent incivility.

Two studies were conducted in North America with full-time employees who experienced rudeness in the workplace and the data is the first to show the link between incivility and feelings of isolation and embarrassment among workers.

Researchers say companies need to address the behaviors to ensure people feel valued at work.

"It’s important for management to regularly reinforce people’s value, so that when employees inevitably experience incivility they won’t be as threatened by it,” said Hershcovis. “Our findings also show that employees are embarrassed when they are treated uncivilly, which implies that they care what witnesses think. This suggests an important role for witnesses, who can help targets by providing social support that help employees feel less isolated.”

The research has been published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior.