What the $%$*#%? Profanity Boosts Morale?

A British study of workplaces, published in the Leadership and Organization Development Journal, states that swearing at work will increase morale in the workplace. They noted that such swearing enhanced group cohesiveness and that it was more common with lower echelon workers and younger managers.

Well, I’ve seen this work both ways.

For example, in the military such cussing is rather common and it does seem to build morale and comradery there unless it’s used abusively by a superior. I’ve seen it work well in the restaurant and bar industry, sometime even right in front of customers there.

However, in your average office environment, profanity can cause a hostile work environment to develop. You are more likely to encounter people who’re offended by it and a constant barrage of four letter words by co-workers can increase stress. This can be compounded is the swearing is directed at a person.

Probably the worse use of profanity is by managers when it’s directed at employees. I’ve seen this done more than a few times and the results have been seriously lowered morale. It can be OK, as a manager, to let an occasional ‘F’ bomb slip out as long as it’s directed at a situation rather than a person. But still, a manager should be sensitive to employee feelings and avoid the word if offense will be given by using it.

Do you think it’s OK for swearing to happen at your job? Does your boss swear with you or at you? What are your thoughts on this subject?


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2007-12-15 10:47:48

[…] use some colourful language verbally, although I think I am getting better, mind you according to a study I am helping to boost morale in the workplace, well that’s just, erm… can’t […]

2008-08-14 23:27:16

Well I would not like to see profanity being used in front of customers anywhere or anyplace. I also agree a boss should not use it toward an employee. It is great fun to use profanity with co-workers. Your are right, it does build morale.

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