No Jerks Allowed

Another Reason Your Annoying Co-Worker Should Be Fired

Source: Bloomberg
Another Reason Your Annoying Co-Worker Should Be Fired
By Akane Otani
It costs three times as much to hire toxic employees because they make co-workers significantly more likely to quit.

Research has just confirmed what most people already knew: The office antagonist ought to be fired. Jerks in the workplace bring morale down, cost a lot of money to deal with, and risk sending good employees running.

For a report published on Tuesday, talent management firm Cornerstone OnDemand analyzed a data set of 63,000 employees and singled out “toxic employees,” or people who were dismissed from their jobs because they harassed their co-workers, falsified documents, engaged in fraud, or were violent in the workplace. Not surprisingly, the firm found that toxic employees make people around them miserable. When the ratio of toxic employees rises by a one-in-20 ratio, co-workers become 54 percent more likely to quit their jobs, the firm found.

All that quitting can get pretty expensive. Because jerks make bystanders more likely to leave—which, in turn, pushes up replacement expenses—Cornerstone OnDemand estimates that, in a group of 20, it costs an average of $12,800 to bring on just one toxic employee. (That’s not including any lawsuits that might result from illegal behavior.) It costs roughly less than a third of that—$4,000—to hire someone who isn’t toxic.

Although toxic employees have a “fairly negligible effect” on the rest of their co-workers’ performance, the firm said, they were seen as creating “a caustic environment that has more long-term effects on employee stress, burnout, and peace of mind.” Nastiness also seems to be contagious. “Toxic employees have the potential to poison the entire well, and the cost estimates issued here should be considered conservative since they do not account for the spread of toxic behavior and its second-hand effects,” the firm said.

The obvious take-away is that companies shouldn’t bring on rule-breakers and misanthropes: It saves money—and keeps everyone happier—to skip hiring them in the first place. But sussing out problem employees isn’t quite as easy as it sounds. Some companies turned to personality tests to screen job applicants but scrapped them after finding them ineffective. And research has suggested that people are hard-wired to act selfishly at their jobs, although being selfish is quite different from harassing a co-worker.

Employees stuck with terrible coworkers might try a new strategy: print this article out, highlight the dollar figures, and strategically misplace it right on your boss’s desk.

Jerk Story – The Bad Office Citizen


Reader Submission by Laura

I’m sure everyone who has worked in an office has met this guy: the one who thinks he is too busy and important to be a good office citizen. He’s the one who takes the last of the coffee without setting up a new pot, or sneaks his dirty dishes into the sink for the “dish fairy” to deal with, or simply can’t be bothered to ask anyone about themselves but is more than happy to brag about his own weekend plans.

Everyone is busy, and he is a good worker, but eventually that kind of disrespect in an office where we genuinely try to be good to each other got pretty old. We started a mini campaign against his bad behavior – calling him out when we’d catch him swiping the last donut and not throwing away the box or saying things to him like “yes my weekend was nice, thank you for asking.” We figured he’d either shape up or get annoyed with us and be out the door.

We actually achieved both results! He did end up moving on before too long, but his behavior was much improved in his final few weeks with us. It was nice sending him off on a positive note, and I’m sure his new office appreciates his good manners.