Toxic Workers Undermine Morale and Productivity

By Samuel Greengard
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    Who's Toxic?

    Who's Toxic?

    Between 3% and 5% of all employees meet the criteria for being terminated due to toxic behavior, which includes misconduct, workplace violence, drug or alcohol abuse, sexual harassment, falsification of documents, fraud and policy violations.

The fact that toxic employees exist certainly isn't news to anyone who has worked in virtually any type of organization. These troublesome individuals have been analyzed, studied and written about for decades. Nevertheless, they continue to wreak havoc on both their co-workers and their managers, and they consistently undermine both morale and productivity in their organization. A new report from learning and talent development firm Cornerstone OnDemand, "Toxic Employees in the Workplace: Hidden Costs and How to Stop Them," snaps the issue into sharp focus and provides insights into how to deal more effectively with "bad apples." Among other things, the report points out that the problem extends beyond the direct costs of dealing with toxic employees. Hidden costs also exist. The study, based on a behavioral analysis of 63,000 hired employees and 250,000 specific observations, points out that good employees quit at a much higher rate when they have to work with an intolerable co-worker. Additionally, the onboarding cost of hiring a toxic employee is considerably higher than for other staff members. "Hiring is a very complex process, and a candidate who gave a stellar performance during the interview may turn out to be a poor fit," warns Adam Miller, founder and CEO of Cornerstone OnDemand. "Science-based assessments help … to identify applicants who are not only more qualified for the job, but also a healthier, long-term fit for the organization." Here are some key points from the report.

This article was originally published on 2015-04-30
Samuel Greengard writes about business and technology for Baseline, CIO Insight and other publications. His most recent book is The Internet of Things (MIT Press, 2015).
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