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Survey shows workers think leadership has to do more to combat toxic employees

A study by Fierce, Inc. reveals there is a big difference between what company executives think is good for creating good team morale and what employees think about the same. It turns out that four out of five workers think the leadership isn’t doing enough to combat toxic employees.

Furthermore, the same amout of workers think a toxic employee has a big negative effect on team morale. 88% of employees believe that rarely a special talent or skill is compensating for the negative impact of a toxic employee. But in the same time, only 40% of managers say they would remove a negative worker from the team.

The survey was conducted this spring and included over 500 employees in the USA. It was aimed to find how employees would handle toxic colleagues on work and an individual level. This is the second survey by Fierce in three years time with the idea to see how things have changed.

The answer is, not much. 41% of respondents still say a negative attidude is the most detrimental trait. Second is blaming others – 11%, then gossiping – 10% and laziness – 6%. A total of 32% ot respondents feel that passive agressiveness is the biggest toxic-creator in an organization.

“There is a clear disconnect between an employee’s stance on toxic colleagues, and how they perceive their leadership is handling these troublesome individuals,” said Susan Scott, founder and CEO of Fierce, Inc in an official statement. “Most of us spend a large percentage of our lives in the office, and our colleagues impact our lives significantly. When those individuals bring us down, it plays a huge role in how well we are able, and willing, to do our jobs. Organizations need to act quickly and efficiently when toxic employees rear their ugly heads, not only for the individuals affected, but for the overall health of the business.”

The study also shows three possible reasons why an employee might become toxic. First is the feeling of being undervalued. If the employees feel disposable, commoditized, they won’t want to put effort in their work anymore.

Second is the lack of recognition. Companies always want the top possible performance from their employees, even to over-deliver. But if then the employees don’t get anything except a paycheck, not even a “bravo”, they could quickly be bitter and disappointed that all of their hard work is going unnoticed.

Finally, it’s the interpersonal conflict. The survey found that over half of employees argue with their co-workers at least once a month. Not resolving these conflicts, which are inevitable, can leave an employee with feelings of helplessness and futility.

Once the reason behind the toxicity is identified, Fierce recommends moving forward by communicating with everyone in the organization. Creating a culture of recognition is key to employees’ happiness, which in turn will result in fewer toxic employees.

If and when a toxic individual does appear, it is critical to confront the behavior head on, and if necessary, cut the cord. “There are always going to be individuals who can’t move past their issues for one reason or another, or can’t get out of the victim mindset,” says Scott.

“When this occurs, set your organization free and terminate the relationship. It may seem hard at first if their work is solid, however the havoc they are having on the organization as a whole isn’t worth an individual’s contribution in most cases.” Plus you will also be helping the toxic employees by allowing them to seek other places where they would feel better. Maybe you can even show or help them find such opportunities to show everyone you really do care about the employees and their well-being.