Q: When does an employee become harmful to a company's goals?
--Robert A. Parker
A: Simply put, an employee is harmful to a company’s success when they are not aligned with company culture and values. It’s typically very obvious when an employee lacks fit. It’s evident in their work and especially in the way the employee speaks of the both the company and management.
When an employee speaks negatively about their employer or makes disparaging remarks about their manager, the effect is immediate and toxic. It is usually healthier for the organization to work respectfully with the employee to help them exit. When allowed to remain in the organization, they can have a pervasive impact on trust, productivity and sense of community.
Trust is damaged when employees witness a disconnect between what the organization values and the actions and opinions of naysayers. This disconnect can lead employees to feel that expectations are being applied and enforced inconsistently. They may even lose faith in the organization’s ability to address and manage personnel issues.
With regard to productivity, a bad fit employee quite literally brings everyone around them down. The negativity that results can decrease engagement, morale and job satisfaction. As a result, collaboration suffers and both individual and team productivity are reduced.
Related: How HR Can Gain Workers' Trust
Furthermore, the sense of community can be damaged tremendously. To maintain an engaging, positive and productive culture, it’s important to cultivate a sense of belonging. When an employee rejects a company’s values – either vocally or through their actions – it becomes much harder for other employees to see their own values reflected in their team.
Because the potential for harm is so great, it’s important that the company be proactive in identifying employees that are a poor fit. By the time a visible crisis emerges, it’s likely that damage has already been done -- productivity may suffer for months before an issue comes to a head. Human resources and managers both have a key role to play in this. HR must continually engage with employees and keep a pulse on employee sentiment. People managers need to keep an awareness of the conversations surrounding their employees and act swiftly when an employee demonstrates any red flags.