One bad apple can spoil the bunch. A common phrase used to discuss a toxic person’s influence on an otherwise healthy group of people. Most people apply this phrase to someone in their personal lives, but could toxic people at work be spoiling your employee morale?
While it’s easy to spot someone who isn’t pulling their weight around the office, some of the most problematic workers may actually be your best employees. According to a Harvard working paper on the subject, productive workers may come with more baggage than your average worker. A star worker may increase performance and business profits, however if they exhibit toxic behavior, it’s likely to induce more toxicity in a work environment.
What’s defined as toxic behavior? In the study mentioned above, it’s a worker that engages in behavior that is harmful to an organization’s property or people. This could be something simple like loss of morale in the workplace and increased turnover, or as devastating as financial misconduct or employee assault.
A superstar employee may be diligent or go above and beyond for the company regularly. By hiring that Top 1%, you may save an average of $5,000. Great, why would you choose otherwise?
Well, the total estimated cost-savings for avoiding a toxic worker is about $12,500. In the end, it may not be worth hiring that confident go-getter if he’s negatively affecting your company culture.
Speaking of confidence, some of the most charismatic people wind up in these superstar positions precisely because it helps them hit their target business goals. But quick work doesn’t necessarily equate to quality work. An employee who may not work as quickly but is willing to help others complete tasks may seem less productive. But overall, they’re usually less likely to break rules and become a business liability.
Having workers who are less interested in employee recognition and more interested in being a team player means they won’t be sabotaging their coworkers to get the job done. Agreeable workers do things for the good of the company and their peers, which in turn lowers expenses and liability over time.
In the end, not all star employees exhibit toxic behaviors, and not all agreeable employees are working as diligently as they could be. Weighing the risks involved in bringing both types of people onto your workforce is necessary to keeping your business environment running smoothly. If you do happen to be working with one of these toxic people, remember to set boundaries and spend time discussing expectations.
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Written by Emily M.