Resources for Business Owners and Leaders

Featured Articles

Business consultant & CEO advisor Jane Gentry lends her expertise in these articles on strategy and leadership.

The True Cost of Toxic Employees

Unveiling the Hidden Impact of Toxicity on Your Business

How to Deal with Toxic Employees | Atlanta Business Consulting
In a tough labor market, it can be tempting to keep an employee who is difficult or disruptive to the organization just to have a role filled. Too often though, leaders don’t realize the impact on productivity and engagement a toxic employee can have on the business’ culture.

According to a study by Dylan Minor, a visiting assistant professor of business administration in the HBS Strategy unit, a company stands to lose $12,489 in costs from replacing one toxic worker, which is almost double the figure a company gains from hiring a “superstar”.1 This figure does not include savings from avoiding litigation, regulatory penalties, or decreased productivity as a result of low morale.2

Toxic employees can drive up employee turnover, diminish the productivity of their colleagues, create a negative work environment, and damage the company’s reputation.

Play Video

How to deal with toxic employees

How can you be proactive in mitigating the damage of toxic employees? By implementing clear policies and procedures for dealing with toxic behavior, providing training and support for managers to address toxic behavior, and fostering a positive work culture that promotes respect and collaboration. By taking steps to address toxic behavior, businesses can avoid the significant costs associated with toxic employees and create a more productive and positive work environment.

Toxic employees can have a dramatic impact on a business, both financially and in terms of company culture. Here are some solutions for dealing with toxic employees:

1. Address Directly

Engage in a meaningful conversation privately: Address the toxic behavior directly and privately with the employee. Make sure to document everything and explain the consequences of their actions.

2. Transparent Feedback

Provide transparent and straightforward feedback: Make sure the employee understands how their behavior is impacting others and the company as a whole.

3. Minimize Impact

Assign tasks that can be done independently: If possible, assign tasks to the toxic employee that can be done independently to minimize their impact on others.

4. Don't Delay decision-making

Get ready to make hard decisions: If the toxic behavior continues, be prepared to make difficult decisions, such as termination. Our motto is – hire slowly, exit quickly. Don’t let these difficult decisions lag.

5. Eliminate Ambiguity

Call out, define and describe toxic behavior in policies: Make sure there is no ambiguity in the behavioral description. Convey in clear language that the behavior is unacceptable and not aligned with company culture or values. Communicate consequences.

Letting go of difficult employees, particularly when they are high performers, is not an easy task. Leaders fear that they will lose client relationships, that productivity will drop or that in this difficult labor market, it will be tough to fill the role quickly. The opposite is true. By taking these steps, businesses can avoid the significant costs associated with toxic employees and create a more productive, profitable, and positive work environment.

Download Article Highlights

Looking for the short and sweet version? Download our article recap slides covering the main points and highlights.

Ready for Change?

Contact us to book a complimentary 30-minute consultation.

Meet Jane


Jane Gentry has had a successful 30-year career as a CEO, Business Consultant, Executive Coach, and Keynoter. Jane formed her practice in 1999 and since then has partnered with her clients to improve growth, profitability, client retention, employee retention, leadership capabilities and business value.

Jane leverages strategies including the proprietary Value Blueprint to enable business owners and leaders to successfully create healthy organizations, plan for succession or sell their businesses for the highest possible market value. Jane is considered one of the top voices in leadership and sales.