October, 2018

Toxic Employees in the Workplace

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How to Identify Toxic Employees in the Workplace

Every office experiences some form of toxic behavior. Whether it’s one bad apple or a few, toxic employees are like a poison slowly killing your company culture. This can result in reduced engagement, decreased productivity, and increased turnover.

So how do you combat or even prevent the damage caused by detrimental employees? The good news is there are ways to identify toxic coworkers, root out the negativity, and create a thriving work environment.

Identifying Toxic Employees

The first step in solving your toxic employee problem is to understand why a person is acting the way they are in the workplace. There are different types of negative people, and understanding the causes can help save your company culture:


Need for Control/Power

Some people need to feel powerful, and they satisfy their hunger by controlling those around them. These type of people tend to bully their victims and can be extremely manipulative. Managers should be aware that 4% of people engage in this behavior because they enjoy it.

If a manager identifies one of their employees as part of this percentage, they should address the situation immediately. If necessary, HR should get involved to try and resolve the situation. If intervention doesn’t work, it may be in everyone’s best interest to terminate this toxic employee.


Compensation for Insecurity

A toxic person can be insecure, so they will exploit others’ insecurities to help them deal with their own. This type of toxic person may be one of the easiest to nip in the bud if their manager cultivates a positive environment that builds up their employees.

Publically encouraging their employees and recognizing them for good work are ways to combat insecurity in the office. When employees feel they are contributing to the organization in a meaningful way, it creates an optimistic, productive environment.


Personal Issues

Sometimes, a person is dealing with a private matter and they take their emotions out on those around them. A rough home life, tragedy, or mental illness can all be causes of a disruptive personality.

Everyone goes through rough patches in life, so it’s important for employees to know what options are available:


Promote an open-door policy so employees know they can talk to their supervisor or HR manager.


Provide options for seeking help with a professional in the event employees aren’t comfortable confiding in a manager at work.


Encourage employees to take breaks and get away from their desks to relieve stress and tension.

The Cost of Toxic Employees

So someone is a little negative at work, what’s the big deal? While hiring a productive employee can result in more than $5,300 cost savings to a company, avoiding a toxic hire or letting one go can bring $12,500 in cost savings.

Toxic employees also spread negativity by intimidating and ostracizing their peers. This behavior causes an 80 percent loss of employee work time worrying about the toxic employee’s behavior. This nosedive in productivity greatly impacts a company’s bottom line.

How to Correct a Toxic Environment

Now that you know how to identify toxic employees and what they’re costing you, how do you fix a toxic work environment? The best way to keep adversity out of your company culture is to create a zero-tolerance workplace:


Provide Training

Managers and co-workers may be reluctant to come forward about a toxic employee because they’re worried about the repercussions. Train managers and employees in behavioral expectations and conflict resolution so negative behavior is identified and addressed proactively.

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Listen to Employees

Toxic behavior is typically a result of employees not feeling as though they’re being heard. Work with managers to encourage open communication and to listen when employees have concerns.

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Follow Up With Employees

It’s important to follow up with an employee when toxic behavior has been addressed. The only way to ensure company policy is enforced and behavior is being corrected is to ensure the situation is truly resolved. By demonstrating to employees that people are held accountable for their actions, you are encouraging employee morale.

Positivity is on the Horizon

Today’s organizations have a lot to manage when it comes to employees. But your company can’t afford the steep costs associated with toxic behavior. While rooting out toxic employees can be a delicate matter, it’s much easier when you have the right tools and guidelines in place.

By taking the steps to proactively identify and correct toxic behavior, you can reduce turnover, improve productivity, and boost employee morale. And creating a more harmonious company culture will help you find that perfect balance between employees’ well-being and your company’s bottom line.

How APS can help

APS provides a unified suite of solutions to easily manage the lifecycle of your employees. Our platform includes hiring, onboarding, employee self service, performance management, and document management to help you create a positive work environment.

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