From large corporations to small startups, toxic employees show up in every industry across the spectrum. For those in a managerial role, it can be difficult to spot the behaviors of these types of workers unless you know what the red flags are to look out for. To protect your business from the disorder that toxic employees can cause on any organization, it’s a good practice to look for the behaviors of these workers and attempt to correct their negative behavior.



Gossiping to coworkers about another employee, manager, or client should never be tolerated. This behavior is more prevalent than other traits, but is quite vapid and only helps to divide a company’s culture and alienate others. The kind of worker that gossips can hold a lot of power within your company in that they will be able to create cliques within a workspace and hinder healthy team collaboration.


Chronic Time-Wasters

Toxic employees, while they normally look like they’re busy, will often use their time on the clock to attend to personal matters like shopping online or checking their social media accounts. While many people casually check their accounts at work, the major difference between the standard worker and a time-wasting toxic employee is the amount of time they waste on these sites. This type of behavior is not productive and lets them run up the clock doing personal rather than work-related activities.


Lack of Accountability

Employees that blame others for their misfortune, rather than taking responsibility for their failings can be toxic. Instead of taking steps to correct their mistakes or being proactive in finding ways to be the best at their job, they are likely to complain and point fingers at others as to why they failed.


Misusing Company Communications

Company email and phone communications should be related to company business. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, and emergencies that take place that will stray from business, but for the most part, emails and phone calls should be kept to strictly business. Employees that use their phone to regularly make personal calls or use their emails to send inappropriate messages should be considered toxic and should also be reprimanded for their misuse of company communications.


No Initiative

This toxic behavior refers to those employees who wait until they are assigned a project or task, and do not take it upon themselves to seek out productive tasks. They may be getting their work done in a timely manner, but they have no interest in thinking critically and proactively in what other tasks should be completed.


While not every toxic employee needs to be let go for their behavior, these traits do show that there is a cause for concern and that action needs to be taken so that more harm isn’t done to the company. As the head of your company, you need to evaluate each situation on a case by case basis to determine whether the employee has a willingness to change, has not done too much harm, and if they are acting out because they feel slighted in some way by their employer.