How to Spot a Toxic Employee


Spot a Toxic Employee | EDI Staffing

Personnel is any business’s greatest asset—but it can also be their biggest liability. As much as a great employee can lift a company up, a bad employee can bring a company down. 


While some of these detrimental employees can be identified from a mile away, sometimes, there are more subtle indicators telling you that one of your employees might be toxic. Identifying toxic employees quickly is critical to minimizing the damage they can do.


We can help you spot those toxic employees so you can weed them out before they wreak havoc on your staff’s effectiveness, morale, or profitability. Here’s how to spot a toxic employee.


They never take ownership.

Toxic employees tend to blame others when things go wrong. If an employee is constantly blaming coworkers and clients for missed deadlines or botched projects, the truth might be that the employee just struggles to take ownership. Great employees are the ones that are able to own up to their mistakes so that they can learn from them later. If you have an employee who doesn’t do this, it might be a sign that they’re toxic.


They are always involved in office drama.

Office politics, gossip, and other drama can really take a toll on the effectiveness of your team. While some employees are able to avoid most office drama, others always seem to be involved in it, in one way or another. This latter group has a higher tendency to be more toxic.


They consistently miss deadlines.

Falling behind every now and then is understandable. Consistently missing deadlines? Not so much. This could be an indicator that the employee isn’t taking their job seriously, and that they value their own time and schedule over the needs of the company. This type of employee tends to be toxic, setting a bad example for others while also potentially causing the entire team to fall behind.


They don’t communicate when there’s a problem.

It’s one thing to face a challenge or obstacle at work. It’s another thing to pretend like it doesn’t exist. Toxic employees will often fail to communicate when things are going wrong, perhaps because they’re unwilling to take ownership of the problem (see above). While communicating about problems in the early stages could potentially help the team avoid those problems (or at least minimize the consequences), a lack of communication can cause problems to snowball, making them simultaneously more serious and harder to solve.


They’re excessively pessimistic. Everyone has bad days, but toxic employees seem to have bad…well, lifetimes. If you have an employee who is constantly complaining about everything from the weather to the coffee in the breakroom, then you could have a toxic employee on your hands.


They don’t take feedback well.

The best employees are the ones who accept feedback humbly and do what they can to make any needed improvements. Toxic employees, on the other hand, are much more likely to push back against any sort of criticism or negative feedback. This demonstrates a sort of narcissism that makes it very difficult for these employees to overcome their weaknesses and progress within the company.


Toxic employees can have a huge negative impact on your company. Use this guide to identify toxic employees more quickly. Then you can take steps to improve their attitude/performance, or, if necessary, let them go. Trust us: You’re better off without them. 


For help finding top IT talent that fits with your team and can have a positive impact on your company, contact EDI Staffing. We have over 20 years of experience helping companies find and hire professionals.

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