Disrespectful behavior in the workplace can have a negative impact on both individuals and organizations. 

On an individual level, disrespectful behavior can lead to employees experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, and decreased productivity.

On an organizational level, disrespectful behavior can lead to decreased morale, increased turnover, and a hostile work environment. It can also impact the bottom line. In fact, according to Dylan Minor of HBS Strategy Unit, “a company stands to lose $12,489 in costs from replacing one toxic worker.”

What is Disrespectful Behavior in the Workplace?

Disrespectful behavior can take many forms, including:

  • Yelling, name-calling and insults
  • Rude emails and text messages
  • Negative body language and facial expressions
  • Being physically disruptive (throwing things, etc.)
  • Excluding people from conversations or meetings
  • Taking credit for others' work
  • Spreading rumors and gossip
  • Sabotaging others' work
  • Making discriminatory or harassing remarks

How a Toxic Workplace Impacts Employees and Organizations

Rude and disrespectful behavior in the workplace can have serious negative consequences on employees. And the impacts can extend well beyond just the individuals directly involved, since toxic behavior is often apparent and felt by others within the organization.

And toxic employees can have a devastating impact on an organization. They can create a hostile work environment, reduce productivity and damage morale. In some cases, they can even lead to financial losses and legal liability.

5 Ways toxic employees Can Impact an organization

    1. create a hostile work environment

      Toxic employees can create a hostile work environment by engaging in behavior such as bullying, harassment, and discrimination. They may also spread rumors, gossip, and negativity. This can make it difficult or impossible for other employees to do their jobs and can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression.

    2. Reduce productivity

      Toxic employees can reduce productivity by distracting their coworkers, sabotaging their work, and creating a negative atmosphere. They may also be unwilling to help their coworkers or share their knowledge. This can lead to missed deadlines, decreased output, and lower-quality work.

    3. damage morale

      Toxic employees can damage morale by making other employees feel undervalued, disrespected, and unsupported. This can lead to decreased engagement, increased turnover, and a less productive workforce.

    4. lead to financial losses

      Toxic employees can lead to financial losses by reducing productivity and creating a hostile work environment. They may also engage in fraudulent behavior or steal from the company.

    5. cause legal liability

      Toxic employees can expose companies to legal risks by fostering a a work environment characterized by hostility and negativity, engaging in harassment or discrimination towards colleagues, or participating in fraudulent activities.

In addition to the above impacts, toxic employees can also damage the company's reputation, make it difficult to attract and retain top talent, and hinder innovation.

Here are examples of how toxic employees can impact an organization in real life:

  • An employee who bullies their coworkers may cause them to leave their jobs, which can lead to increased turnover costs.
  • An employee who spreads rumors and gossip can damage the company's reputation and make it difficult to attract new clients.
  • An employee who sabotages their coworkers' work can lead to missed deadlines and decreased output, which can cost the company money.
  • An employee who creates a hostile work environment may lead to the company being sued by other employees.

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How to Deal With a Disrespectful Employee

Successful organizations strive to maintain a company culture that promotes respect and rewards positive behaviors. However, even the best company can find itself dealing with disrespectful, toxic employees. 

If you are dealing with a disrespectful employee, it is important to address the behavior promptly. Here are some helpful tips:

remain calm and professional

It is important to remain calm and professional when dealing with a disrespectful employee. This will help to de-escalate the situation and make it more likely that the employee will be receptive to your feedback.

document the disrespectful behavior

It is important to document the disrespectful behavior so that you have a record of it in case you need to take disciplinary action. You should document the date, time, and location of the incident, as well as the names of any witnesses. You should also write down a detailed description of the behavior, including what was said or done.

meet with the employee

Once you have documented the disrespectful behavior, you should meet with the employee to discuss the behavior and provide clear feedback. Let the employee know that their behavior is unacceptable and explain why. You should also explain the consequences of continued disrespectful behavior.

Take disciplinary action if needed

If the employee continues to engage in disrespectful behavior, you will need to take disciplinary action. This may involve a verbal warning, written warning, or suspension.

Terminating a Disrespectful Employee

Terminating an employee should be the last resort after all other corrective measures have been exhausted. Here's how to responsibly manage this process:

    1. review documentation

      Ensure that all incidents involving the employee's disrespectful behavior are well-documented. This includes the steps you have taken to correct the behavior, such as verbal and written warnings.

    2. Consult human resources and legal team

      Before proceeding with termination, consult with your human resources department and legal team to ensure that you're abiding by all relevant labor laws and company policies.

    3. plan the meeting

      Arrange a private, in-person meeting to inform the employee about the decision. It's best to have a witness present during this meeting, usually a human resources representative.

    4. communicate clearly and respectfully

      During the meeting, clearly communicate the reasons for the termination. Use a respectful, neutral tone, sticking to the facts and avoiding personal criticisms.

    5. confirm in writing

      Following the meeting, provide the employee with a written document outlining the reasons for their termination and any relevant severance details.

      Remember, even though the process is difficult, maintaining a professional, empathetic demeanor throughout is essential. The goal is to ensure that everyone involved is treated with dignity and respect, even in the midst of challenging circumstances.


Preventing Disrespectful Behavior in the Workplace

Organizations should take steps to prevent disrespectful behavior from occurring in the workplace. 

9 effective solutions

    1. Working closely with senior management, hr and an employee assistance program

      The company should create a code of conduct that clearly defines disrespectful behavior and the consequences for engaging in such behavior. The code of conduct should be communicated to all employees and should be enforced consistently.

    2. train employees on appropriate workplace behavior

      This training should cover topics such as what constitutes disrespectful behavior, how to deal with disrespectful behavior, and how to create a respectful work environment.

    3. managers and supervisors should model respectful behavior towards their employees

      This includes being polite, considerate, and respectful of everyone's opinions and ideas.

    4. Employees who engage in disrespectful behavior should be held accountable for their actions. 

      This may involve disciplinary action, such as a verbal warning, written warning, suspension, or termination of employment.

    5. Recogonize and reward employees who exhibit respectful behavior. 

      This can be done through formal recognition programs or informal gestures, such as a simple thank you.

    6. Create a culture where respect and civility are valued.

      This includes creating a code of conduct that clearly defines disrespectful behavior and the consequences for engaging in such behavior.

    7. organizations should promote diversity and inclusion in the workplace

      This includes creating a workplace where everyone feels welcome and respected, regardless of their race, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

    8. provide employees with opportunities for training and development

      Topics such as workplace behavior, diversity and inclusion, and conflict resolution are important areas to touch on.

    9. encourage employees to speak up about disrespectful behavior

      This can be done by creating a safe and supportive environment where employees feel comfortable reporting disrespectful behavior. 

Disrespectful behavior in the workplace is not only detrimental to individuals but also poses a significant threat to the overall success and harmony of organizations. It undermines trust and hinders productivity and collaboration. Recognizing the seriousness of this issue, it is imperative for organizations to proactively implement measures to prevent disrespectful behavior and promptly address it when it does occur.

When you partner with Ulliance, our Life Advisor Consultants are always just a phone call away to teach ways to enhance your work/life balance and increase your happiness. The Ulliance Life Advisor Employee Assistance Program can help employees and employers come closer to a state of total well-being.

Investing in the right EAP or Wellness Program to support your employees will help them and help you.  Visit https://ulliance.com/ or call 866-648-8326.

The Ulliance Employee Assistance Program can address the
following issues:

• Stress about work or job performance
• Crisis in the workplace
• Conflict resolution at work or in one’s personal life
• Marital or relationship problems
• Child or elder care concerns
• Financial worries
• Mental health problems
• Alcohol/substance abuse
• Grief
• Interpersonal conflicts

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Disrespectful Employees? How to Fix a Toxic Workplace, Sean Peek, Business News Daily https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9145-employee-disrespect-effect.html

Hazard Warning: The Unacceptable Cost of Toxic Workers, Roberta Holland, Harvard Business School

Rude co-workers? 1 in 4 people report workplace incivility, Caroline Colvin, HRDive

The True Cost of a Toxic Work Environment, Will Yakowicz, Inc

Unveiling the Hidden Dangers Within Organizations: The Impact of Toxic Employees on Company Culture and Morale - Insights from Real HR Experiences, Poonam Sharm, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/unveiling-hidden-dangers-within-organizations-impact-toxic-sharma-/