Toxic employees: How to deal with them

Whether you’re a business owner or manage a department within a firm, it’s vital that you ensure your team is comfortable in their working environment.

While there are many factors that can lead to business failure, toxic employees pose one of the biggest threats to a firm’s success. But what do you do if you find yourself in the precarious position of having a disruptive member of staff? Here, employment law expert Michael Shroot explains.

Toxic or demotivated

Some employees may lack motivation, while overworking can lead to burnout and a slump in productivity. It’s important to weed out these staff from genuinely toxic employees so they can be coached to success, preventing the cost of dismissal and hiring a replacement.

We’ve all worked with an annoying colleague, but if a member of staff is aggressive, bullying, incompetent or fuels office drama, they can have a devastating impact on productivity and the morale of others. In these cases, it’s important to act fast when you are informed of an incident.

Investigate the matter

The first thing you need to do is establish the facts by inviting the employee to an investigation meeting. You should give them some notice, although this is not always necessary.

Give the employee the chance to have their say, listen and take as many notes as you can. You’ll then need to follow up with anyone else involved to get other sides of the story to ensure you have undertaken a reasonable investigation.

Follow documented procedures

Once you’ve established the facts, work with your HR department and an employment law expert to make a decision as to how you should proceed.

The first step may be a disciplinary hearing and appropriate disciplinary action, but if it becomes clear that gross misconduct has taken place, then the sanction may be instant dismissal as a way forward.

This is a complex area of law so it’s vital that you keep a watertight admin trail and follow documented procedures.

The situation could escalate so you’ll need to document actions taken, and should you find yourself at the wrong end of an unfair dismissal claim at an employment tribunal, you’ll need to prove that you had a fair reason for dismissal.

For more information on dealing with toxic employees, or for any other employment law advice, contact Michael Shroot on 0161 761 8087 or email him at