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Why do business leaders keep ignoring toxic employees?

I work in a great team, we are all supportive and respective of each other, in fact we have reputation across the business of being a very "tight team", we understand each other's weakness and strengths and don't exploit them for our own personal gains. It's such a refreshing change, especially from the corporate rat race in London.

About 18 months ago, when I was living and working in London I caught an Uber home after a long day in the office, my driver casually asked me how my day was. I sighed and said “It was ok, but I could do without all the bitching and politics. But I guess being your own boss you don’t get that?

He replied “That’s why I left my corporate job in the city, toxic coworkers made my life miserable, don’t let them destroy you.

We’ve all worked with that one colleague, the passive aggressive one, the one that is rude, disrespectful and disruptive at any chance they get. Thrive on gossip and getting their highs out of other people’s lows. The phrase Toxic Coworker springs to mind, and toxic is the perfect word. This person oozes spitefulness, disdain and bitchiness out of every pore.


A study by office vibe states 62% of respondents reported coworkers cause them more stress than bosses. But here’s the thing, not only is it causing you stress, it’s going to have an effect on your home life as well; your friends, family, partner and children will be drawn into the toxic environment. Perhaps changing your behaviour in the process.

In my experience as an executive coach for the past 17 years, I’ve observed that the more toxic the employee, the less self-aware they generally areLibby Gill, founder and CEO of executive coaching and consulting firm Libby Gill & Company, speaking in the 

It’s not looking good for businesses who ignore the situation, according to the Harvard Business Review:

  • 80 percent of employees lost work time worrying about the offending employee's rudeness.

  • 78 percent said their commitment to the organization declined in the face of toxic behavior.

  • 66 percent said their performance declined.

  • 63 percent lost worktime in avoiding the offender

What exactly is a Toxic Coworker? Here’s what the experts top have to say...

Toxic people tend to be selfish, They are frequently opportunistic and only think about how circumstances benefit them. Toxic people tend to look down on other people when they make mistakes while holding themselves in immaculate esteem- Dr. Logan Jones, a New York City–based psychologist

Toxic coworkers are ‘pot stirrers’ and strive to make others look bad- Connelly Hayward, a Louisiana-based career coach.

Toxic colleagues are bullies who influence productivity and could even have an impact on fellow coworkers’ health, including loss of sleep. They manipulate and often control the people with whom they work. We fear them because they create stress for us, they exhaust us, and with respect to our motivation, they may ultimately prevent us from working at our best.- Roy Cohen, career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide

What can you do?

It’s a difficult place to be. There is most certainly an atmosphere, a poisonous fog hovering above the department, and if management can’t see it or continue to ignore it, then shame on them. As an employee what do you do? Leave your job? Stay and be miserable? Comfort the situation and hope it goes well?

  1. These blogs offer great advise on how to deal with a toxic coworker on a daily basis:

  2. “Don’t be in a scene from mean girls 2” - How to deal with Toxic CoWorkers 

  3. Thrive global article, 3 ways to stop your toxic coworker from ruining your work life

But to all you business leaders out there, here’s the perfect advise on how to deal with a Toxic Employee:

If you’ve got toxic employees on your team, get rid of them. If they haven’t changed by now, they’re not going to. Take action to defend your team and your culture, and protect your bottom line, your healthy employees will thank you later!” - Brian Dodd


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