Toxic Employee Attitudes: 5 Signs of a Destructive Worker

People spend the majority of their time at work, so it is crucial to know how to deal with toxic employee attitudes in order to maintain balanced workplace relationships. It is both healthy for corporate culture and for employers’ mental state. There are many toxic people everywhere, and so it is important to recognize such behaviour in order to manage it properly.

What is Toxic Behaviour at Work?

Whether you are an employer or top manager, a healthy corporate culture should be among your priorities. A toxic employee affects the whole group and business. According to the recent research published on Statista, such behaviour results in many issues for other workers too. People that have a toxic relationship at the workplace experience:

  • Crying and getting emotional;
  • Isolating themselves from colleagues;
  • Getting angry;
  • Increase in unhealthy habits;
  • Picking up a hobby.

All of that is destructive not only for their feasibility but for the functioning of the whole team. It decreases job performance and discourages motivation. Dealing with such people efficiently is the way to protect your business. That’s why it is important to spot harmful behaviour among employees.

Here are some major red flags one should pay attention to.

Signs That Help to Recognize Toxic Employees:

There are many ways toxic behaviour can manifest. Some issues like not paying attention at the meeting or getting to office late might seem like a minor problem. In fact, they are the first signs of a toxic employee.

Here are some other major issues to look for.

#1: Toxic People Spread Gossip

Of course, people working together are going to socialize and talk to each other. But one thing is sharing and the other thing is talking behind one’s back. Such toxic employees tend to spend a lot of time at coffee point gossiping. They can talk trash about the company or other workers. Eventually, it affects the whole group. It creates unhealthy communication precedents. It also might result in many people being hurt with rumors.

Such people may also talk bad about their boss, question authority and discourage other workers. It is not constructive criticism, just bad rumors. This is the number one sign of toxic corporate culture. The worst thing is that such behaviour will be spread among others.

#2: They Do Everything Except Their Immediate Duties

Generally, toxic employees are not great at their job. They spend time online shopping or procrastinating. They find excuses about why they cannot do something today. They also tend to complain a lot and show a negative attitude. They might sign up for many different workgroups just to be busy doing nothing but showing that they are overloaded. Of course, some people want it all and try to do a lot, but this is not the case. They also do not pay attention at meetings, which is a bad example for everyone. If a person is constantly late or spends too much time on their break, it is a bad sign. It creates a feeling among others that they get special treatment as they can do whatever they want.

#3: Toxic People Have Conflicts with Clients and Other Workers

One of the major signs of a toxic person is that other people don’t want to cooperate with them. Sometimes a top manager might not notice some details or behaviours. However, if people refuse to work with someone it is a worrying thing. Maybe it is caused by a person’s actions of words. In any case it is a sign of tension in a team, which is not great. It is important to address this issue immediately. Try saying something, asking what the issue is. There might be some miscommunication that can be easily resolved.

Note, that if you get complains from both team and customers, it is time to take some actions.

Joanne Henderson, an HR from, states:

‟Clients feedback is a great tool for understanding the processes that run in the team. If a client is not happy with one of our employees, we communicate with the whole department in order to prevent further misconceptions”.

#4: They Mask Harassment Behind Jokes

Teasing is pretty wide-spread among co-workers. It might be comic relief and gets them into better relationships. However, there is a clear line between friendly teasing and bullying someone. If the other person is hurt and feels discomfort, it is time to stop this. There is no place for constant joking around about someone’s weak points. And there shouldn’t be inappropriate jokes as well. Hire a lawyer to help you expose a colleague’s discriminatory behavior. Criticism shouldn’t also come in a form of harassment. If workers are intimidated, scared or upset by their colleague, they are a toxic person.

#5: Toxic Employees Avoid Taking Responsibility

When working with a team, don’t listen to what people say, pay attention to what they do. Everyone makes mistakes and it is natural. It is important to recognize and acknowledge the mistake. Toxic workers tend to avoid any responsibility. They would deny their mistake or even blame others for it. If you see a person that never recognizes their mistakes, you need to confront them.

How to Deal with Toxic Employees:

The easy answer is to fire them. However, some of them might be a valid professional that can be addressed personality. Here are some basic steps to take when dealing with a toxic colleague:

  • Collect information on their performance and errors. Stick to the facts, not to the rumors. In fact, those complaining about others might be toxic themselves.
  • Confront the person individually. Before making any judgments, ask how allegedly toxic person sees the situation.
  • Give subtle recommendations. When someone tells you who they are, pay attention to their response to criticism. Is the person able to acknowledge their toxic behavior? Is the person ready to change? If the answer is yes, give advice and give that person a second chance.
  • Observe their behaviour again and again. Don’t forget to get updates on their performance. Some toxic behaviour might, in fact, be changed. But if the update is unfortunate, it is time to say goodbye.

Running a successful business means working with people. It is important to have a healthy corporate culture as it affects a company’s performance. That’s why it is important to know what is going on in the team. Address the toxic behaviour and make sure that your employees are happy and motivated.

Elizabeth Price

Elizabeth Price is a creative content & blog writer interested in education, marketing, and business-related topics. Now a New York resident, she attends journalism courses. Eager to provide high-quality content, she looks for proven statistics, and speaks to experts before writing.