Let Employees Curse at Work, &@*#!

October 26, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Allowing employees to swear at work may actually have a positive impact, acting as a way to reinforce solidarity among staff and enabling them to express their feelings, according to findings from researchers at the University of East Anglia.

The researchers found that a regular use of profanity could help employees express their feelings, such as frustration, and develop social relationships. They identified the relevance and even importance of using non-conventional and sometimes uncivil language at work and how it may have a positive impact, according to a news release from the University.

Younger managers and professionals were more tolerant in what they accepted as ethical behavior, suggesting that age may be a moderator for the spreading of swearing language to the workplace, according to the authors of the study, Yehuda Baruch, professor of management at the Norwich Business School (NBS), and graduate Stuart Jenkins.

The study also found women swore more than might traditionally be expected, especially among themselves. M ost of the cases of swearing were reported by employees at the lower rungs of the organizational latter, whereas executives used profanity less frequently.

Study participants said swearing did not take place in front of or within close proximity to customers, but took place after customers had gone or in staff areas.

“Employees use swearing on a continuous basis, but not necessarily in a negative, abusive manner,” said Baruch, in the release. “Swearing is a social phenomenon to reflect solidarity and enhance group cohesiveness, or as a psychological phenomenon to release stress.”