How One Mean Employee Drags Down the Whole Workplace
New research reveals the incredible toll one rude person can have on the office.
Posted Feb 21, 2016
There’s a lot to be said for the old saying, “One bad apple can spoil the whole barrel.” Not only is that true for fruit, but it holds a lot of merit in the workplace.
Just one malicious employee among the ranks can wreak havoc on your company culture. Toxic employees have an unhealthy ripple effect that harms co-workers, managers and subordinates alike.
Although many research studies show the destructive effects of a workplace bully, new research highlights the adverse effects of incivility. While a bully may yell or call someone names, a mean co-worker’s rude behavior may be less obvious.
The study examined the effect of behaviors such as ignoring someone, giving a dirty look, or “forgetting” to include a co-worker on an important email, for example. Researchers discovered these interactions can be just as damaging as more aggressive bullying.
The study also found incivility doesn’t just harm the perpetrator and the victim. Witnessing a co-worker’s rude behavior can be very damaging.
Here are five ways one rude employee can drag down the entire office:
1. Decreased Job Satisfaction
It’s no surprise that no one wants to work with rude people. But it only takes one toxic person to drag down morale. Whether employees dread a meeting with the impolite supervisor, or half the workforce eats at their desk to avoid lunch with an insulting colleague, the detrimental effects spill over into every aspect of an employee’s job.
2. Higher Turnover Rates
A single abusive employee can lead to higher turnover rates for all the staff. Workers don’t want to stick around in an unpleasant environment, regardless of the salary, perks or other benefits. Kind and talented employees will seek opportunities with a more positive workplace culture.
3. Sleep Problems
Working with a toxic person doesn’t just impact employees at the office–it can take a serious toll on their home life and their physical health. People who encounter rude co-workers are likely to experience sleep problems. Sleep-deprivation can interfere with their ability to cope with stress, which can make dealing with a workplace meanie even more difficult.
4. Poor Mental Health
Being a target of incivility has detrimental effects on well-being. Similar to the studies and surveys that have linked bullying and harassment to a variety of psychological injuries, rude behavior can take a toll on a person’s mental health.
5. Rude Behavior is Contagious
Rude behavior is contagious. Researchers found that workers who witnessed someone treating others unkindly were more likely to treat others in a malicious manner. Bystanders not only began treating others poorly, but they also began provoking their co-workers after they’d been exposed to a toxic employee.
Don't Underestimate the Bad Apple
Rude employees often seem to have a fair amount of social support–most likely because no one wants to be on their bad side. But that doesn’t mean their behavior isn’t harmful.
It can be tempting to excuse the aggressive worker who seems passionate about his job or the blunt employee who always gets his work done. But clearly, those employees may undermine the majority of the workforce.
It's hard to be mentally strong when you're faced with a mean person at the office. But, understanding the toll that they can take on the office is the first step toward taking back your power.
Want to learn how to give up the bad habits that rob you of mental strength? Pick up a copy of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don't Do.
Interested in learning how to build mental strength? Sign up for my eCourse Mental Strength: Mastering the 3 Core Factors.