Identifying Toxic Workers and How To Deal With Them

Every company should strive to develop a healthy and harmonious work culture. Companies are made up of individuals with different personalities and affiliations. While there are employees who will diligently work, there are also those who will make life miserable for their co-workers. These are toxic employees. As a manager, it is pertinent that you learn how to deal with toxic workers or your whole team will be affected.

Good employees are 54 percent more likely to quit when they have a toxic co-worker. Toxic behavior from employees can have an impact on other workers. Employees who have toxic co-workers experience the following:

  • Crying and getting emotional
  • Isolating themselves from colleagues
  • Getting angry
  • Increase in unhealthy habits
  • Picking up a hobby

Such toxic behavior can affect the functioning of the whole team. It can also decrease job performance and discourage motivation. In addition, the cost of replacing an employee who quit their jobs because of a toxic environment can be great. Hiring one toxic employee for a team of 20 costs approximately $12,800 as opposed to the $4,000 cost for hiring a non-toxic employee.

With this in mind, management should pay attention to dealing with toxic workers. While they only make up about 3 to 5 percent of all employees, their impact on co-workers and the office culture in general are much more noticeable and costly to the whole organization. As such, it is important to spot and deal with these bad apples so it won’t affect the whole bunch. This article will delve on the following topics:

1. What is Toxic Behavior?

2. Signs of a Toxic Office Employee

3. Types of Toxic Workers and How To Deal With Them

4. How To Manage A Toxic Work Environment?

What is Toxic Behavior?

  • Aggressiveness. This can affect workplace safety and productivity
  • Narcissism. Too much self-focus can negatively affect a positive workplace culture that includes a balance of give and take.
  • Lack of credibility. This happens when people don’t follow through with promises and other things.
  • Passivity. Too much passivity can affect productivity.
  • Disorganization. All organizations need focus, discipline, and strong structure.
  • Lack of adaptation. It is important to instill the culture of adaptation to your organization.
  • Gossip. Office gossip can result in unwanted conflict and undermine working relationships and can negatively impact teamwork.
  • Glory seekers. Morale can be seriously impacted by workers who take credit for someone else’s achievements especially when seeking all the glory for a team project or downplaying the efforts of others to highlight their own contribution.
  • Intimidation or bullying. These types of behaviors can affect company morale and may result in legal actions if the company allows such behavior.

Signs of A Toxic Office Worker

1. Toxic People Spread Gossip

2. They Do Everything Except Their Immediate Duties

3. Toxic People Have Conflicts with Clients and Other Workers

4. They Mask Harassment Behind Jokes

5. Toxic Workers Avoid Taking Responsibility

6. They’re over confident

7. They are self-centered

8. They always complain

9. They use unethical methods to get ahead

10. They are dead-set on following rules

Types of Toxic Workers And How To Deal With Them

When learning how to deal with toxic workers, you should first know how to identify them. Here are some of the most common types of toxic workers management should pay attention to for the good of their business.

1. The Slacker

A slacker finds a way to avoid work and can be a major drain on everybody’s time, energy, and enthusiasm. They don’t seem to care about what other team members or managers think of them. A slacker is known for having low motivation, lack of regard for deadlines, bad timekeeping, wasting time online, and absenteeism.

Antidote: To deal with a slacker, you need to ask them what’s going on and listen to systemic problems instead of individual ones. If they have the same workload as the other team members, set clear expectations and deadlines. Set regular accountability meetings to review progress and deliver feedback. Reward them when their deadlines and quality expectations have been met.

2. The Volcano

Antidote: Talk to the employee privately to find out what’s going on. Focus on the behavior and provide tangible examples of how the behavior can negatively impact the workplace. The employee may not realize that their volatility may make the other employees feel bullied or that people may avoid working with them because of it.

3. The Martyr

Martyrs may have control issues and may be working too much to prove themselves. This will create imbalance to the team and foster unrest. They tend to come to work when sick and may infect everyone else. These types of workers are prone to burnout.

Antidote: Make sure that projects are spread out fairly among team members. Explain to them why they aren’t getting the hardest jobs. Give them a special project or two to satisfy their need without disrupting the normal workflow.

4. The Socialite

  • Provide regular redirection
  • Define social times and activities for staff
  • Be clear about appropriate behavior
  • Harness communication skills
  • Channel interpersonal energy

5. The Sociopath

Sociopaths are known for bullying co-workers. They disregard protocol and encounter issues with authority. They encounter interpersonal problems and like to manipulate and sabotage their co-workers. To deal with sociopaths, management should do the following:

  • Provide a safe and supportive environment
  • Take employee complaints seriously
  • Enforce strict anti bullying policies
  • Trust your instincts
  • Carefully document negative behaviors

How to Manage A Toxic Work Environment

The best way to eliminate toxic workers is to not hire them in the first place. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. It would be costly on your part to get rid of them once they are already on your team. The good news is that there are other ways of dealing with toxic workers without having to fire them. Here are some steps of how you can manage toxic workers in your organization:

Dig deeper

Give them direct feedback

Explain the consequences

Accept that some people won’t change

Document everything

Separate the employee from the rest of the team

Avoid distractions

airisX provides business services: from onshore, nearshore, and offshore services to contract manufacturing to warehousing and fulfillment.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store