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Ways a Negative Team Member Can Ruin the Entire Team or Company Morale

Everyone can relate to a bad day at work sometimes. But for some employees, negativity, bad attitudes and unacceptable behaviors become a way of life. And when one of these “bad apples” is left untreated, its toxicity can spread to co-workers and over time upset the entire team.

Difficult employees can negatively impact their entire team, create a toxic work environment, and even increase your company’s financial and legal viability. But by understanding how bad employee behavior begins, how it can spread among team members, and what you can do to manage, rehabilitate, or even eliminate those employees. there. negative, you can eliminate negative behavior from childhood. productive and profitable.

What causes employee bad behavior?

Before discussing the concept of a “problem employee,” it’s important to understand that someone who has an occasional bad day doesn’t qualify. Instead, the term is best applied to negative employees, who often have poor attitudes, problematic employee behavior (e.g., excessive absences or persistent and creeping conflicts. ladder with others). colleagues) and poor performance make it a threat not only to accountability. soldiers. but also productivity and profitability.

There is no single type of employee whose destiny is to go from the “good employee” column to the “bad apple” column. And in general, the average worker doesn’t aim to be a cautionary tale about the dangers of toxic employee performance or even just being a negative person. Today’s bad apple most likely began as a productive and positive member of their workgroup.

But life, as they say, intrudes, and a number of underlying issues can have a powerful negative impact on employee behavior and attitude, including:

  • Stress
  • Overworking and/or burnout
  • Feeling unappreciated, unheard, or ignored
  • Challenges in their health, relationships, or personal life
  • Interpersonal conflict with other team members

Whatever the reason(s) for their negative behavior, difficult employees cannot be allowed to proceed unchecked, as there’s much more at risk than just their own job performance or future with the company.

In general, the average worker doesn’t set out with the goal to become a cautionary tale about the dangers of toxic employee performance or even simply being a negative person.

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Bad Employee Behavior Can Be Costly and Contagious

Beyond the notion of negativity as a general morale-crusher, negative employees can hamstring productivity. In addition, they can create problems with other team members, suppliers, and even your customers.

Let’s consider some specific examples of how bad behavior can affect problem employees, their coworkers, and your company’s bottom line:

Productivity and Team Cohesion

Nobody wants to spend their work hours saddled with Debbie Downer. Teams designed to work together can subdivide or develop alternatives to avoid entering into these “negative relationships,” deepening divisions among negative employees. and their colleagues and make it much harder for a team or workgroup to work together. .

Employee absence and earnings:

Another risk of team members actively avoiding difficult employees is that good employees change schedules, quit, or actively look for new jobs to get out of seemingly impossible situations. Not only will this cost you the value created by their skills and talents, but it will also create new hiring costs as you scramble to replace them.

Best practices for managing and improving employee misbehavior

No company will take the same approach to dealing with negative employees or their bad behavior. Each organization has its own internal standards and expectations, as well as any regulatory and industry requirements related to its specific products and services.

That said, virtually any business can benefit from following the “four Ds” when developing and implementing their strategy to manage and reduce negative attitudes and behaviors.

  • Define your company’s standards of acceptable behavior and incorporate them into your official policies. This not only serves to strengthen existing legal protections against discrimination and harassment, but also provides a clear explanation of:

    • Your company’s core values ​​and standards.
    • Expectations about how employees will treat others, including suppliers, colleagues and customers.
    • Professional guidance.
    • Resources are available to employees who may have difficulty meeting standards of behavior due to personal life problems, overwork, interpersonal conflicts, perceived environmental toxic workplace, etc. Be sure to work closely with your human resources department to establish these resources and ensure that every employee feels seen, appreciated, and understood. • How behavioral standards are incorporated into performance reviews.
    • How attitude and professionalism affect employee performance evaluation.
    • The relationship between behavioral requirements and employee job descriptions (e.g. reliability, cooperation and open communication are expected of all employees, regardless of their role). ).
    • What corrective actions will be taken if employees do not meet these standards (e.g. a performance improvement plan) and how these may escalate over time, as needed , until termination of the contract, if necessary.

Every few weeks, try a rotating “skill-share”

What exactly is it: (you can build on the Skills Sharing model to learn anything from anyone), where one team member presents an untapped skill for the whole team. You never know, you might have a secret wine connoisseur, art history buff or mini golf champion among you! Encouraging people to share their talents and interests not only gives them the chance to work on something they’re really passionate about, but it also helps the team relax together.

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Maintain employee morale with remote work.

Employee morale can change at any time, and some of the reasons for that change may be unrelated to the job. Take the example of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people have had to dramatically change their daily work habits to switch to working remotely overnight.

The pandemic is a major external stressor over which companies have little control. This change has completely changed the number of operating companies.

To help their new remote teams stay motivated, many companies have adapted to the stressful circumstances of the pandemic by providing additional benefits and support. At Asana, we’ve rolled out corporate holidays and mental health support globally to maintain teamwork and support team members as they learn to work from home.

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