In my office days, I always wondered why companies keep toxic employees.
You know, those employees who make everyone’s life miserable, spread negativity like a virus, and give new meaning to the phrase “difficult colleague.”
After months of thinking, I finally got the answer.
Maybe it was because of the company’s fear of employee turnover, work dependency, or simply being too afraid to act.
But let’s be honest here.
There aren’t just 2-3 reasons a company would hold onto a toxic employee.
So, let’s waste no time and move to my comprehensive study about why companies stick with people who ruin everything.
What Are Toxic Employees
In short, they are the reason for corporate culture’s downfalls.
But if you plan to know them better, there are different types.
For instance, some employees are busy making gossips 24/7 about other people and don’t do anything themselves.
We often refer to them as the “Gossiping Gnome.”
Moreover, many other employees, like The Procrastinator, never complete their work on time; the Drama Llama, who is always up for more fights, and the list continues.
Here are eight reasons why a Company may plan to stick to these employees even with all their negative impacts.
8 Reasons Why Companies Keep Toxic Employees
- Performance And Experience
One of the most common reasons a company might keep a toxic employee is if they are a high performer or possess a unique skill set that is hard to replace.
Ask yourself about the two most essential points of hiring.
If an employee helps the company achieve all the yearly or monthly goals without asking for anything extra, there’s a high probability that the company won’t let him go quickly.
The result matters even if the employee indulges in extra gossiping or keeps sleeping.
However, if there are too many reports on the employee’s behaviour, the company may decide to work on improving his role or changing the office.
- Time Of Replacing
Let’s accept it.
Companies hate to hire new employees every then and now.
And honestly, Who wouldn’t?
Hiring a new employee is like refreshing the whole process and doing things repeatedly.
You have to guide the worker in his role, help him understand the company environment, and explain the rules.
Plus, you don’t know if you can find a replaceable fit in the meantime or not. Most companies end up firing employees expeditiously, and they never find a similar match again.
Meanwhile, time is wasted, and the company is at a loss.
This is why a company decides to keep a toxic employee, even if he is somehow ruining the whole company culture.
- Lack Of Evidence
Just like you cannot punish someone without evidence, a company cannot fire an employee without a strong reason or, in simpler words, “EVIDENCE”.
In my opinion and experience, this is usually due to poor record-keeping or the employee’s ability to conceal their behaviour.
Yes! Some Agent 47s out there can make life miserable for you and act like a saint in front of the boss.
So, is there no way out of this?
I’d say there is always a way.
Hold onto a tape recorder or a video recorder (if needed), and the next time an employee misbehaves, the boss might teach him a lesson.
- Severity Of Toxic Behavior
In some cases, the toxic behaviour of an employee may not be severe enough to warrant termination.
Just like minor gossiping or slamming the desk irregularly aren’t some behaviours on which an employee can be fired immediately.
Most companies try to be friendly with such employees and try to improve their behaviour instead of firing them.
However, if any employee is involved in major crimes like theft or harassment, companies will immediately kick them out.
- Belief In Improvement
“Mistakes are always forgivable if one dares to admit them.”
– Bruce Lee
Most companies believe that a toxic employee can be corrected or improved through training or coaching, and I deeply support it.
This approach usually helps the employee’s behaviour change for good.
Moreover, some companies invest their resources into such campaigns and training classes to bring the best out of such people.
- Loyalty To Long-Term Employees
If the toxic employee has been with the company for a long time, he may be seen as a valuable asset or be well-liked by colleagues.
But that isn’t it.
Some companies also have policies that include not firing employees before a specific time.
This can be a crucial reason companies hang onto toxic workers even when they don’t want to.
- Afraid To Act
As lame as it could sound, some managers are often paralyzed with fear when it comes to firing someone.
If you are thinking, why?
It is usually because they are uncomfortable with conflict and may avoid dealing with toxic employees to avoid confrontations.
I won’t advise you to accept the harsh behaviour of the toxic workers.
If an employee makes your office life unbearable, you can directly contact the boss to raise the issue and get him removed or disciplined.
- Strong Network
A company might keep a toxic employee if they have a strong network and connections within the company or industry.
Didn’t get it?
We have all seen employees who always get extra courtesy or favours from the boss.
The reason? They are both old friends, and the boss likes his services, but that’s not where things end.
I remember a coworker who always had this weird smile on his face.
Nobody dared talk to him disrespectfully because he had ties outside the organization.
The ironic part?
Even the CEO always used to act pleased with his services even when he didn’t want to.
Initially, it made us quite uncomfortable, but as time passed, everything started to sound more sensible.
I know, as an employee, it feels unfair, but the truth cannot be denied.
Now, with that being said, let us positively conclude things.
Removing some toxic employees from the company might be challenging, but there is always room for some positivity.
Just because an employee has some huge relation or working history, it doesn’t mean that you should ignore his negative or rude behaviour.
Always report to higher authorities because what may be little today might be bigger tomorrow.
In contrast, if you see that this negativity is the nature of the employee and something he cannot control, try helping him and calming things out instead of arguing.
In both cases, we consistently report things to the HR or CEO so that if something goes out of our hands, they can control it.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can companies do to prevent hiring toxic employees?
Companies can prevent hiring toxic employees by conducting thorough background and reference checks, using behaviour-based interview techniques, and paying attention to warning signs during the hiring process.
Additionally, creating a solid company culture and promoting positive values can attract candidates who are a good fit for the company.
Can toxic behaviour be changed or corrected?
Sometimes, toxic behaviour can be changed through coaching, training, or other interventions. However, evolving deep-seated personality traits or behaviours may be challenging, and some poisonous employees may resist change.
Can a toxic employee be that harmful to a company?
A toxic employee can significantly negatively impact a company’s culture, morale, and productivity.
They may create a toxic work environment, damage relationships with coworkers and clients, and decrease overall team performance.