The number one response to coping with toxic employees is to ignore them, with 44% of respondents noting this is their preferred approach, according to new research conducted by Fierce Conversations on toxic workplace culture. Addressing behavior with management comes in second, with confronting them the third-most preferred option.
Having a negative attitude tops the list of most toxic traits of employees, followed by being manipulative, and not being a team player. "Toxic employees are wreaking havoc on workplaces of all sizes and across industries, yet we are not seeing necessary efforts to combat these problem employees," said Stacey Engle, President of Fierce Conversations. "The fact that confronting problematic employees directly is people's third choice of action should be concerning to all organizational leaders. The amount of time and energy that can be saved by providing employees the skills and empowerment to address issues head-on, before they become larger issues, is critical."
A key reason that ignoring toxic employees is the preferred response is likely that almost three-fourths (72%) of those surveyed say toxic employees never or infrequently change their behavior when addressed. Further, when asked what they believe management does once alerted of a toxic employee, the number one response is that the manager confronts the broader issues at team meetings — rather than talking to the toxic person one-on-one — followed by doing nothing. The third response is confronting the employee directly, followed by encouraging the person who reported the toxic behavior to confront the employee directly.
"The bottom line is that when employees do speak up about someone exhibiting toxic behavior, and then nothing happens, it creates an environment where people feel defeated and that their voices, their happiness, don't matter," continued Engle. "Company leaders must take every concern seriously and follow-up after an issue is addressed. This doesn't mean leadership has to handle each and every complaint directly. By equipping employees with the skills to address the issues themselves first, many issues can be resolved quickly and efficiently, before they become even greater concerns."
Allowing toxic employees to be ignored causes major long-lasting problems for organizations. Employees not only report an increase in stress at work but also:
- A decrease in overall job satisfaction
- A decrease in team morale
- An increase in wanting to leave their jobs
Nearly three-quarters (72%) of respondents say they wish their employers were less tolerant of toxic employees. Managers should address concerns of toxic employees versus ignoring or addressing the topic in a vague way. If not addressed, morale will continue to decrease affecting retention and job performance.
Source: Fierce Conversations