Toxic employees of the month: The bitter slackers
You know the guy who never seems to get his work done. Instead of diligently finishing projects or long-term assignments, he procrastinates or only puts in the minimal effort. While this behavior might not be tolerated for long at your company, many times these slackers glide right under the radar, never changing their behavior, unless someone speaks up or takes action to correct it.
Slackers are a drain on their coworkers’ time. They are unwilling to pull their own weight on the team and would rather leave early than contribute to a productive work environment. While slackers may seem like some of the most toxic employees to have at your company, they are not the worst. This is why bitter slackers have made the list for toxic employees of the month.
Why are bitter slackers so detrimental?
Slackers just lack the motivation to complete their work. Bitter slackers also don’t do their work to the best of their abilities, though they complain and can even be hostile about it at times. These are the employees you will see openly moaning about their high workload on their lunch break or being passive aggressive when given assignments.
While there are times when employees may need to vent about their current situation, bitter slackers will drain the morale of a team nearly instantly. Even the most productive employees may recognize the injustice: that they are meeting deadlines and working hard, while their bitter slacker coworkers are doing far less and not being reprimand for it. This may cause them to grow bitter and develop slacker-like tenancies as well.
How can you handle these toxic employees in the workplace?
You must uncover their hidden (or rather very open) resentments about their work or the company in order to transform them into productive and enthusiastic employees. Otherwise, you face alienating the rest of your staff. For example, Fierce Inc., a team of leadership development consultants, conducted a study last year where they discovered that only 40 percent of bosses surveyed stated that they would get rid of a toxic team member, while 88 percent of employees responded that they would.
Why are so many managers willing to put up with employees whose behavior is clearly damaging productivity and workplace morale? One explanation is that it may be difficult for less confrontational managers to handle tough conversations with clearly bitter employees. They may prefer to ignore the situation, or write it off as employees just needing to relieve some work-related steam.
“Employers then must set clear expectations for behavior.”
Meanwhile, as employee turnover is a true problem facing organizations across the country, managers may realize that it could be more trouble than it’s worth to go through the hiring process once again and risk hiring an even worse worker. Regardless of the reasoning, if employers want to improve the quality of their workplace, they must first begin with a conversation.
“Approach the conversation with curiosity and compassion,” Susan David, the founder of the Harvard/McLean Institute of Coaching, told The Harvard Business Review. “You want to show that you’re genuinely trying to solve the problem, rather than punish or make a point.”
By following this advice, managers may able to start getting to the root of why bitter slackers are displeased at work. Maybe they need to move to a different department or handle other responsibilities. Maybe they are having a hard time at home or feel dissatisfied in life. Whatever the reason, employers then must set clear expectations for behavior and hold them accountable to that. If they still do not improve, further steps must be taken, until eventually, it may be better to part ways than to continue bringing down the morale and productivity of the entire department.