We’ve probably all seen the research on how to identify top performers in the workplace, as this is a great way to not only reward those who succeed the most, but it’s also helpful in identifying what it takes for other employees to also succeed. But less research has delved into the darker side of the workplace that can tear employees down: bullying.
Study: Toxic Workers
Every organisation already has their fair share of enemies – friendly or otherwise. Whether it’s the competition or an envious counterpart, every company has likely faced someone or something that sought your demise. But perhaps the most threatening barrier can be within our own ranks, and employees who harm the performance of the organisation can pose a greater threat than our biggest competitors.
Employees who are overachieving and confident aren’t necessarily your most toxic, but new studies are finding that toxic workers can range from mild to severe. The Harvard study (linked above) gives four of the main traits that can be descriptive of a toxic worker:
- High Productivity
- Strict Rule-Followers
You might say that these traits are generally traits you’d expect from a good team-member, but in fact, these traits in excess can lead to more deviant behavior. Indeed, problematic workers are often good at their own jobs, but cause issues when dealing with teammates. “Even relatively modest levels of toxic behaviour can cause major organisational cost, including customer loss, loss of employee morale, increased turnover, and loss of legitimacy among important external stakeholders,” the authors wrote.
The costs of these toxic employees can directly affect your company, as social problems with colleagues are one of the main reasons people leave jobs. Toxic employees can exhibit many behaviors which could affect the happiness of others, as identified by psychologists at Sweden’s Lund University:
- Deliberately withholding vital information
- ‘Forgetting’ to invite a colleague to a group event
- Taking credit for the work of others
- Withholding praise
- Spreading rumours
These ‘bullying’ behaviors can fester and work to tear your organisation apart from the inside. Project Leader at the university Eva Torkelson says there is still hope, though. “When people become aware of the actual consequences of their rudeness, it is often an eye-opener.”
HSG offers a range of team-building activities as well as organisational cultural change to shift the way your employees deal with each other. Build your company up from within by ensuring that every employee is treated with respect and dishes out the same respect in return.