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How tolerating bad employees impacts the morale of good employees in the workplace

There are various factors that contribute to a company’s productivity, but experts and managers agree that good employees are the backbone of any successful organization.

Employee engagement is crucial, and management often takes great pains to motivate employees to ensure the success of all stakeholders in the company.

There are many reasons why employees quit of course, but tolerating bad employees, can quickly kill employee morale and undermine an institution’s accomplishments.

Good employees work hard, follow the rules, and always try to do their best. Managers can be supportive of people with temporary setbacks due to health or personal issues without weakening a high-performance work culture.

Everyone of course goes through times of trouble. However, employees who take advantage of colleagues and a kind manager, or disrupt operations, threaten the business.

Bad employees can lower employee morale. Toxic employees are even worse and may contribute to the development of a toxic work environment. Employees are likely to get stressed, unhappy, and even sick when they are constantly exposed to negativity and bad behavior.

This will surely lower output and increase absenteeism among employees. Tolerating bad employees thus sends a message that management does not put a premium on hard work and dedication.

Why do some bosses treat employees unfairly anyway? There are various reasons why superiors decide to tolerate bad employees, particularly since confronting or dismissing an employee is stressful and awkward for all parties involved.

Some hope that the employee will change, and the situation will improve. For this reason, some senior members are more inclined to tolerate rather than handle bad employees.  

If management turns a blind eye to bad employees, why would other staff bother to put in extra effort into their own work? When employees work hard, they would appreciate a reward or some recognition.

When leaders don’t deal with a toxic employee, it tears down trust and causes uncertainty among employees. It sets a poor example to the whole workforce and may create resentment and division. Low performing employees also take up too much of the manager’s time.

According to leadership coach David Rabiner, 80% of the manager’s time is taken up by 20% of the company’s poor performing employees.

The worst employees divert the manager’s time and energy to do damage control rather than focus on matters important to the company’s success, such as talking to clients or planning to improve the organization’s operations.

Taking care of employees has become even more important after the massive resignations in the aftermath of the pandemic. In 2021, the Workhuman Survey Report polled more than 3,500 workers in the U.S., U.K., Ireland, and Canada on their connection to their jobs and companies.

The survey’s findings indicated that appreciation, recognition, and gratitude for an employee’s contribution constituted demonstrative, quantifiable acts of retaining workers. Employees are now more certain than ever of what they will and won’t accept at work and will certainly not appreciate tolerance of bad employees.

When employees manifest bad behavior, employers need to step in to protect the morale of most of their staff. Here are some ways to deal with difficult employees:

Clarify expectations. Employers need to be clear that they will not tolerate bad employees. Have an honest conversation with the employee and give them a chance to air their side of the story. When a good employee “turns bad,” address the issue immediately to prevent negativity from spreading throughout the team.

Consistently enforce regulations. Employers must be willing to act when an employee does not meet expectations. Be firm, but fair in enforcement. Being too strict may create resentment, while leniency will provide them with an opportunity to take advantage of the situation. Disciplinary action may be warranted, ranging from a formal warning to dismissal.

Reflective listening can help clarify issues or conflicts in the workplace.


Try to reach a compromise. If both sides are willing to make concessions that everyone can live with, then it might solve the issue and create a more positive work environment.

Focus on the company’s good employees. A united team with high morale solidifies an organization’s culture and will lead to its success. A bad employee is detrimental to that unity, so it is important to reward the people who actually contribute to the accomplishments of the organization.

Seek professional help. In some cases, a professional might be needed to deal with a difficult employee. A therapist or counselor may be better equipped to provide insight and guidance.

Tolerating bad employees might allow a toxic work environment to quickly spiral out of control and hurt the company. Weed out unproductive employees to avoid losing the company’s best talents.

Letting go of a bad employee might even be the best option since a smaller and more productive workforce is better than a large unproductive one.

When employees feel good about their job and the organization they work for, they are more productive and engaged. Promote a positive work environment by enhancing communication, mutual respect, and a healthy work-life balance among employees.

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