Everyone knows that employees who consistently underperform or show up late can hurt your business. But another detriment to your practice are so-called “caustic” employees, who impact the attitudes, self-confidence, and perhaps even the productivity of those around them. Caustic employees are ones who:
- Gossip about their coworkers;
- Undermine supervisors with constant criticism of company policies; and
- Complain unnecessarily and excessively.
As an employer, you may be unaware of the existence, or impact, of caustic employees for some time. But due to their overall impact upon morale, you should take action to address their behaviors as soon as possible. The best way to do so is, of course, to sit down with the employee and to discuss your concerns. Simply mentioning the employee’s bad attitude is unlikely to be productive. Instead, you should investigate and document instances in which that employee’s behavior was a problem. In order to compile this information, ask the following questions:
- How are the actions of this employee impacting the atmosphere of our practice?
- How does the attitude of this employee affect those around him or her?
- How do the actions of this employee vary from those of the rest of the team?
You should be aware that often times a caustic employee will not have had prior disciplinary meetings, as they usually perform their jobs well, from an objective standpoint. So you need to make it clear that the issues you are discussing are just as important as timeliness and job performance. Stress the importance of maintaining a positive work environment, and of offering encouragement to one another to maintain high office morale.
At the end of the day, employees are just people, and people are flawed. It could be that your caustic employee truly was unaware of the impact that he was having upon others. Give him or her a chance to remedy their behavior. But if he or she chooses not to do so, then you will have to consider whether you are willing to risk losing other employees if you choose to retain a caustic person in your office.