We have all experienced the toxic co-worker.  You know the one who seems to get away with far more than anyone else. They might be rude, curt in their replies and yes even in some cases yell at others.

Not only have I worked in environments where I have shaken my head as to why we keep these individuals but I sometimes have to encourage clients to let them go. One of my clients just let go of a 10- year toxic employee whom they thought they couldn’t live without. Much to their surprise the co-workers who worked with this individual have one by one shared how they now enjoy coming to work again.

I believe there are a couple reasons long-term toxic employees happen

  1. The employee is full of company knowledge and industry expertise and management feels that letting them go due to their behavior out ways the disruption to business.  But does it? That employee who makes others lives miserable can be the cause of turnover, lack of trust and engagement. Think of the time spent in conversations about the employee. The closed door meetings coaching others to deal with the situation.
  2. The individual is a high producer but at what cost? Often employees who bring in money to the organization are often exempt from coaching or firing.  To show the high cost of turnover due to employees leaving, I designed a 75 line item excel spreadsheet I call the  turnover calculator. With each client I work with we begin with what is the tangible cost of turnover.  This includes the hard cost and the often elusive soft costs of loss productivity.  I begin with calculating the costs of a high turnover position and then we can go through all of them.  As you can imagine the farther up the organizational chart you go the more money it cost to find and train the talent.  The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) states that it cost between 6-9 months of an employees salary to replace them.  Recently, I calculated the cost of turnover for two clients for the first 3 quarters of the year.  One client had 650K plus in turnover based on entry level positions and another had 400K!  

The number one reason people leave their job is due to the relationship with their supervisor. Number two is the relationship with co-workers.  It is all about people!  Employees don’t come to work everyday for the perks. They come because they like the job and people the work with.

How do we fix it? Our solutions revolve around what I call Retention Architecture that can be found in my book Retention: Key Mindsets That Retain Top Talent