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Almost three in four (72 per cent) employees wish their employers were less tolerant of so-called toxic employees, according to a new survey by leadership development and training company Fierce Conversations.

The survey’s respondents said the three most toxic traits are a negative attitude, a tendency of being manipulative and not being a team player.

When asked how managers address the issue of a toxic employee once they’ve been alerted, the top response was confronting the broader issue at team meetings, followed by doing nothing and confronting the employee directly. The fourth most-listed response was encouraging the person who reported the toxic behaviour to confront the employee themselves.

Read: How to ensure employees don’t feel anxiety before workweek begins

“Toxic employees are wreaking havoc on workplaces of all sizes and across industries, yet we are not seeing necessary efforts to combat these problem employees,” said Stacey Engle, president of Fierce Conversations, in a press release. “The fact that confronting problematic employees directly is people’s third choice of action should be concerning to all organizational leaders. The amount of time and energy that can be saved by providing employees the skills and empowerment to address issues head-on, before they become larger issues, is so important.”

The survey also found 72 per cent of employees believe toxic employees never or infrequently change their behaviour after it’s addressed. And it found that allowing toxic employees to be ignored is causing harm to employees, including an increase in stress at work, decrease in overall job satisfaction, decrease in team morale and an increase in the desire to leave their jobs.

Read: Workplace stress a leading cause of mental-health issues: survey

“The bottom line is that when employees do speak up about someone exhibiting toxic behaviour and then nothing happens, it creates an environment where people feel defeated and that their voices, their happiness, don’t matter,” said Engle. “Company leaders must take every concern seriously and follow up after an issue is addressed.”

Among employee respondents, 44 per cent said the most common way to deal with a toxic coworker was to ignore them. This is a decrease from the 50 per cent who said the same in Fierce Conversation’s 2017 toxic employee survey, “indicating some progress is being made on employees feeling empowered to address issues head-on,” noted the release. The second most common method of handling the toxic employee was addressing their behaviour with management, followed by confronting them.

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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