People of Color Bear Brunt of Toxic Workplace Communication According to New Study by Writer.com

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New report looks at medium, formality and toxicity of workplace communication in the COVID-19 era

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Nerves are frayed, and that’s seeped into how we treat each other at work. These findings should give companies pause to consider how their employees are handling the stress of the moment, and how this stress plays out over communication tools like video and chat.

Writer, the AI writing assistant for the world’s smartest companies, today released the findings of a new survey that sheds light on the state of workplace communication during the pandemic. The company surveyed more than 1,000 employees on how they interact with co-workers over media such as chat and videoconference, how changes in format have affected the quality and formality of their communication, and whether they have been on the receiving end of toxic messages. The most significant finding is that respondents of color report a far higher incidence of toxic communication, such as racist, discriminatory, bullying and sexually inappropriate messages, than white people do.

Among the findings:

Toxic workplace communication

  • 38% of respondents overall report experiencing toxic communication. That said, race accounts for a 20 percentage-point swing factor between white people (32%) and people of color (52%).
  • People of color report receiving racist messages, posts, comments, or images at more than twice the rate than white people, especially over email and chat.
  • People of color also report being bullied at higher rates than white people, especially over chat and videoconference.
  • Nearly one in five respondents report experiencing toxic communication related to balancing work and home responsibilities. That number jumps nearly ten percentage points, to 29%, for people of color.

Frequency and formality of communication

  • 70% of workers report using videoconferencing more often since the pandemic began.
  • 62% report a decline in in-person work communication.
  • Respondents report an improvement in the quality of their videoconference communication (52%), but a decline in the quality of their in-person communication (36%).
  • More than one out of four (26%) workers report that their own written communication has gotten worse.

Professional milestones

Workers report on typically in-person professional milestones or activities occurring over communication media like videoconference and chat.

  • 21% report interviewing for a job over videoconference.
  • 8% report being promoted over email.
  • 5% report quitting over chat.
  • 6% report being fired over videoconference.

“Nerves are frayed, and that’s seeped into how we treat each other at work,” said May Habib, CEO of Writer. “These findings should give companies pause to consider how their employees are handling the stress of the moment, and how this stress plays out over communication tools like video and chat.”

Methodology: Writer conducted the survey in October 2020. The findings are based on responses from 1,036 U.S.-based full-time workplace professionals who earn an annual salary of $50K to $200K.

For more information on the findings and a complete look at Writer’s report, visit writer.com/workplace-communication.

About Writer

Writer is the AI writing assistant for the world’s smartest companies. We help content leaders scale their messaging, communication style, and must-have language, no matter who’s writing. Top companies like Twitter, Intuit, and The Discovery Channel have standardized their content creation on Writer.

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Ann Noder
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