A “toxic workplace” refers to a work environment which is usually marked by significant personal conflicts among the people who work there. Such infighting can often harm productivity. Toxic workplaces are often considered the result of toxic employers and/or toxic employees who are motivated by personal gain (power, money, fame or special status) and who use unethical means to psychologically manipulate and irritate those around them. With a recent report going as far as to suggest 70% of Brits have worked in a toxic workplace, here we look at how to deal with toxic employees.
We all have bad Mondays and challenging weeks – it’s simply the cyclical nature of a career. Most of us can make it through these down times but if you’re in a toxic workplace, it’s like having all these challenges on repeat, without a break. It’s red flags on top of red flags.
Toxic work environments breed unrest, competition, low morale, constant stressors, negativity, sickness, high turnover and even bullying. Even worse? Toxic workplaces rarely stay at work.
Toxic employees can lead other workers to suffer from stress, burnout, depression, damage to self-esteem, and serious disruptions in normal life.
So how do you deal with a toxic employee and prevent them from affecting others?
Start with direct feedback
Managers should provide all staff with regular feedback to keep them on the right track and to keep morale high, so direct feedback is your chance to control the situation before it starts to affect others. Make sure you are tactful in your approach, though, and make sure your employees understand what the issue is and what is expected from them. You should also have evidence of their toxic behaviour to verify the claims.
Follow up the discussion
The employee must have the chance to change their behaviour and become a positive presence with the company. This may not happen overnight, but you do need to see some progress soon after the initial discussion. Schedule another meeting with them to discuss and have proper evidence of their performance during this period. Hopefully, they will have taken positive steps to address their toxic behaviour but, if not, you need to take action quickly.
If the toxic employee has not changed their behaviour following feedback, time to change and a follow-up meeting, then terminating employment is often the only way forward. We can help you with advice on how to do this properly and avoid unfair or constructive dismissal claims. Terminating employment of a toxic employee should be the final option, but it can also be highly effective and help to create a better environment in the workplace while allowing your team to thrive.
Managing a toxic employee is a major headache in business. It is also a sensitive issue and one that needs to be handled carefully, especially because toxic employees will often blame anyone but themselves.