5 Types of Toxic Employee Behavior and What You Can Do About It

Toxic employee behavior can wreak havoc on your business and bottom line. Across America, there is cause for celebration as the rate of unemployment hovers at a historic low of approximately 3.6%! This also means that employees are much more willing to talk with their feet when toxic behavior is present in their workplace. Whether you think there are problem employees working at your company or you just want to learn how to spot the behavior, here are some traits to look for and what you can do when one of your employees is bringing down the morale at your business:

Toxic Employee Types Defined

The Career Bully

Just about every school in every generation had a school bully. You remember the person who went around stuffing seemingly weaker students in their lockers, stealing your lunch money, and making you afraid to walk down THAT street on your way home from school? School bullies eventually grow up, and while some outgrow their domineering behavior, others continue the antics into the career world. Career bullies are also known as “the snake in the grass” and will throw you under the bus and intimidate you so they shine in the spotlight and get all of the promotions at work. They will lie, cheat, and steal to climb the corporate ladder. 


If you have been in the working world for any length of time, you have probably worked for at least one micro-manager. This is the type of supervisor who has to know EVERYTHING that is going on in the workplace and causes a lot of stress for employees. Micro-managers are the control freaks of the workplace and have the mindset that employees need to do everything “my way” in order for it to be done the right way. When working with a micro-manager, employees spend more time trying to please their boss and avoid getting into trouble than they do actually doing their work.

The Gossiper

Who doesn’t love a juicy workplace scandal every now and then? A good hush-hush story can make the workplace interesting, but there is a limit of when the gossip and drama becomes too much and it can eventually bring employee morale down. The gossiper is the employee who spends way to much time socializing with others and not enough time doing their work. Whether they are spreading rumors and gossiping or just spending too much time around the water cooler, hard-working employees will begin to grow irritated quickly.

The Grouchy Nay-Sayer

It seems that nothing can make the grouchy nay-sayer put a smile on his or her face. This is the person who walks around the office with a scowl and seems to find a problem with anything new being implemented within the company. Like the proverbial “elephant in the room,” all other employees will sense this person’s presence and will most likely walk on eggshells around this employee so not to set them off. The grouchy nay-sayer may also have a hot temper and can be downright dangerous if set-off or fired.

The Slacker

Slackers can be found at all levels of the company and are the ones who end up getting promoted, but lack the “go-and-get-em'” skills of a true leader. Slackers are the ones who roam the floor and will usually only put forth effort in getting their job done when they know the boss is watching. A slacker generally gets promoted into a leadership role by being a super good actor or when they have been with the company long enough that they are promoted by default. A slacker takes forever to make decisions and does not see possible ramifications for decisions they do make.

How to Get Drama Out of the Workplace

Employees have choices when it comes to where they are going to work, and you do not want to lose your best workers because they do not want to deal with the drama all day. Here are some ways you can identify and deal with toxic employees:

  1. Adhere to an open-door policy. Employees should have access to decision makers and their Human Resources representatives to be able to voice concerns, report ineffective management, and harassment.
  2. Managers need to be on the lookout for toxic behavior. Management interacts with employees daily and needs to know what is going on in the workplace, without micro-managing so they can deal with problem employees appropriately.
  3. Be a good coach! There is a good chance that your difficult employees do not even realize that they are displaying the traits listed above. Be a good coach and talk to them, hopefully steering them to make the workplace a little less toxic.
  4. Be ready to make hard decisions. If an employee is making the workplace toxic and can’t be coached out of the behavior, there is a chance you will need complete disciplinary action, up to and including termination to hold on to the good employees.

Is your company a toxic place to work? At Ratedly, we monitor what is being said about your company on social media and review sites. Contact us today so we can help you become the place where everyone wants to work!