Toxic employees are costing more than you think

Everyone has worked with colleagues who criticize others behind their backs. They make rude remarks about a variety of things that they shouldn’t be discussing, demand extra work from everyone but themselves and generally make the work place not so happy.

Besides being toxic, annoying and unpleasant, these behaviors are also extremely costly to companies, according to new research released this week.

A Harvard Business School study recently found that avoiding hiring a “toxic worker” can save companies right around $12,500 or more. On the other hand, hiring a superstar employee only saves about $5,300 for the company.

How were these estimated created? Researchers used employment data from around 60,000 workers at 11 companies. They were focusing only on the toxic behavior that resulted in the firing of an employee. For the purposes of the study a toxic employee was identified as those whose hostile style or manipulative actions could turn the workplace into a lousy environment.

Meanwhile, a superstar employee was defined as one most productive workers which in most companies this is the top 1 percent of workers.

Toxic employees are so very costly because their behaviors drive out other workers. This forces companies to spend more money training replacement hires. These toxic employees also make frustrated co-workers less productive.

“In extreme cases, aside from hurting performance, such workers can generate enormous regulatory and legal fees and liabilities for the firm,” the study says.

However removing a toxic worker isn’t always easy. This is because they may seem to be more productive than their colleagues, at least in terms of quantity if not quality. Many times they seem to be a good employee and this makes their manager is less likely to want to let them go and might even look the other way in terms of their negative behavior. However the study showed in the long run, getting rid of those workers is still the best way to go.

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