Bad Employees and their Toxic Effects

The saying goes that one bad apple can ruin the whole bunch. Interestingly enough, it is the same with employees. The effects of bad employees or ‘hurricane’ employees, as they are also known, can be visible in companies of any size and industry.  Even though this type of person initially impresses in the interview phase, underperforming employees now represent a serious threat to your business.

But just how dangerous are these employees? Well, given the 2013 CareerBuilder survey done on 6,000 hiring managers and HR professionals, it has been discovered that 27% of U.S. employers who had employed a ‘bad apple’, claimed that one bad hire eventually cost their business more than $50,000. This is a financial strain no business should bear. Additionally, the majority of businesses have more than just one bad employee in their ranks.

Recent research done on how contagious ‘hurricane’ employees can be, has revealed that even the most ethical of employees may begin embracing misconduct if they work alongside a dishonest individual for too long. It may be nice to think that the honest employees would instil some moral values into the dishonest employees, that is rarely the case.

For managers and executives, it is extremely important to realise that the money involving an underperformer go far beyond the effects it has on that particular employee– bad behaviour can easily ‘spill over’ into the minds of the other employees through basic peer effect. If organisations choose to under-appreciate the consequences of these spill-overs, a few ill-mannered employees can infect any strong corporate culture.

Nevertheless, through observing similar behaviour among staff, it does not explain how and why this similarity even occurs. Co-workers could behave similarly because of peer effects – in which workers learn behaviours or social norms from each other – but similar behaviour could arise because co-workers face the same incentives or because individuals prone to making similar choices naturally choose to work together.

Below, you take a look at some of the more hidden ways in which bad employees can hurt businesses, and why it is imperative to let them go in order to reach personal and company goals.

  1. Negative organisational reputation

One of the most destructive ways in which ‘hurricane’ employees can harm organisations is by destroying its reputation. A business’s reputation takes years on end to establish, and, unfortunately, one poor-performance employee may derail all of that hard work for quality products, services, and professionalism.

It goes without saying that unprofessional customer service or products lacking that lack that level of excellence expected from any business could leave clients and customers disgruntled. Furthermore, this makes them associate poor service and bad quality with the brand. A damaged reputation takes years to bounce back from and in some extreme cases, it is irreversible.

  1. Low levels of employee morale

Besides the fact that bad employees hurt a company’s bottom line, they also drive employee morale to worryingly low levels. This may even occur in the best performing employees. In this scenario, the rest of the team has to pick up the pace due to one’s person unproductiveness, which, consequently, causes the top talents to become disengaged, dissatisfied, or even burnout. This may sound eerie but only one member on the team may cause the entire staff to become frustrated, angry and detached, leading, of course, to cohesion and morale issues, extreme defensiveness and, in some particular cases, a tendency to ignore creative ideas.

This is definitely a case in which managers must take the tough decision and remove harmful employees from the office environment in order for the HR department to focus its efforts on finding a team member willing to work hard.

  1. Daily interruptions

‘Hurricane’ employees also have the tendency to refuse thinking for themselves and solve their problems independently which, in turn, causes workflow interruptions for managers and executives alike. Instead of focusing on issues such as performance and engagement, managers are forced to hand-hold the harmful employee through menial daily tasks. The damage this type of person may do is not only contagious, but it often shows in team performance. In a recent study done at the Rotterdam School of Management, has revealed that one negative employee can “literally cause” a 30% to 40% drop in performance levels.

Of course, this leads to losing productivity at management-level as well, because managers are unable to implement new ideas and initiatives due to the constant supervision they have to undertake with the ‘hurricane’ employee. Even though firing someone who isn’t performing at normal standards is an uncomfortable experience altogether, managers have to ask themselves if they are willing to lose professionally due to one individual. The moment when a manager starts to think about what is best for the organisation, the decision will become all the more clear.

By understanding how and why co-workers make similar choices about committing misconduct can steer managers into preventing misconduct. Misconduct is a product of social interaction and given its nature, knowledge and social norms it may be difficult to spot at first. Generally speaking, if managers can achieve the level of understanding required to why co-workers behave in similar ways has enormous implications for understanding how corporate culture is shaped and how managers can help steer it in the right direction.

There is a real value in providing companies with the tools to carry out regular organisational assessments and this is where Great People Inside comes to your aid. Our online platform offers the best solutions and tools for your company to thrive in every type of industry and any possible situation your organisation may find itself. In terms of lowering your employee turnover rates, we recommend our GR8 Full Spectrum assessment for hiring and 360° Survey for retention. Finding the right talent, the best fit for the job and your organisation can be a very challenging task. It requires deep knowledge of your own organisation’s culture and a keen understanding of the candidate’s personality, strengths, interests, work style and other characteristics. Our technology and solutions will do the work for you, helping you find employees who can flourish and reach the highest performance required to constantly bring your company forward.

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