All it takes is one bad apple, so the axiom goes, to spoil the whole bunch, and it certainly applies to an office environment. Beware the toxic employee. Their negative impact can cause their associates to become physically ill, according to a study “Targeted Workplace Incivility: the roles of Belongingness, Embarrassment, and Power,” conducted by the University of Calgary and the London School of Economics, which found stomach aches, headaches, and sleeplessness can be among the symptoms reported.
Business consultant Jim Whiddon, founder of TheOldSchool.cool, says the best way to detoxify a work environment is to have employees engage in personal idle chatter. “We teach companies and organizations all across the county to have your folks sit down and have personal conversations. This can be as simple as hometown, hobbies, family, and stories of their life, favorite teams, what you did this weekend,” he advises KTRH News. He says that smartphones, tablets and devices have taken a human element out of our work interactions, and the impact can be crippling. “That communication is something that we’ve lost in this age of distractions with all the rectangles and technology that dominate our lives, and it’s amazing how people can melt in those conditions, in a good way,” Whiddon says. He says it should be institutionalized as an exercise across an organization, recommending bosses have their employees make personal contact and develop agreeable relationships with their associates by getting to know one another. Positive relationships require first having a relationship. Whiddon says it is best to try to work out the problems with a toxic employee before considering termination.