Sadly, most of us with have experienced people in our offices who are problematic, whether that be their views, their personal hygiene, or the food that they choose to stink the kitchen out with.
People who bring leftover fish to work, we’re all looking at you.
However, some researchers from Harvard have been looking into the worst and most toxic traits that people can bring to the workplace, and the results – whilst not exactly surprising – might not be exactly what you think.
Of course, nearly everyone will have worked with someone who constantly – either on purpose or reflexively – brings negativity to every situation.
That be through making comments about the ideas of others, naysaying at every turn, or just generally oozing a lack of confidence when others are trying to bring the positivity.
According to the research, that’s one of the biggest things to look out for.
To achieve their conclusions, the researchers compiled data from more than 50,000 employees, and concluded that this type of ‘toxic’ worker is a problem because they have the power to make others around them quit their jobs more frequently and in a shorter amount of time.
Bad news for bosses and workers alike.
According to the researchers, employees like this can ‘cause major organizational [sic] cost, including customer loss, loss of employee morale, increased turnover and loss of legitimacy among important external stakeholders’.
As well as this, the study discovered that having a top-level employee, one that ‘models desired values and delivers constant performance’ will save a company more than $5,300 (£3,923), whereas getting shut of a toxic worker or trying to get them to be less negative can deliver even higher savings at up to $12,500 (£9,252).
So, what can we do about them and how can they be spotted?
They’re easy to spot, because every time something is suggested they’ll shoot it down or make a negative comment.
Crucially, they’ve only got reasons why something won’t work and no ideas for alternative solutions.
The thing that you might not have imagined – remember we mentioned that before? – is that sometimes sacking the negative person isn’t a great idea, particularly if they’re super-productive.
Dylan Minor, who co-authored the study, told the Harvard Gazette: “A natural question I get from people is ‘Why would anyone have a toxic worker? That’s crazy!’
“But then you realize [sic] they’re incredibly productive. And so, it makes sense then that maybe managers would look the other way because they’re really hitting all their productivity numbers.”
Still, you don’t have to be Gwyneth Paltrow to recognise that negative energy is a real thing and permeates a working culture.
So, regardless of how productive these people are, it’s probably still worth challenging them.