List of Bad Employee Characteristics

by Ann Frederick; Updated September 26, 2017
Three businesspeople at a business meeting

They’re the subject of water-cooler conversations, comic strips and — in extreme cases — media coverage. Bad employees can make the office an unpleasant place to be, reducing employee morale and productivity. Examining the characteristics of these problem professionals can help supervisors determine if it’s time to take action to eliminate them from the workplace.

Complaining

Some employees can’t find anything positive to say. They criticize their supervisor, the corporate office, other employees and even customers. They whine about their physical environment, often finding their workstation, the office break room, the bathrooms and the lighting to be insufficient. On sunny days, they complain it’s too bright, while on rainy days they complain the sun never shines. In general, they look for the worst in everything.

Naysaying and Lack of Enthusiasm

Naysayers are the ones you find “showering every new idea with a half-dozen reasons it can't be done,” says author and workplace expert Roxanne Emmerich. This trait can be accompanied by a general lack of enthusiasm for work responsibilities and an unwillingness to cooperate with new initiatives.

Gossiping

It may be speculating about the “real” reason someone missed work, sharing information about a co-worker’s relationship problems or raising the unconfirmed possibility that layoffs are coming to the company. CEO Beth Weissenberger defines it as “talk between co-workers, managers, and executives about work-related matters to someone who can't do anything about it,” noting it destroys company morale and efficiency. However, it's defined, gossip is not a characteristic you find in good employees.

Know-It-All

These employees have an a superior, egotistical attitude, says human resources supervisor Nancy Aldrich. In their arrogance, they believe they're never wrong. Aggressive “know-it-alls” may be pushy, demanding, argumentative and prone to abusive behavior. “Difficult employees thrive on the chaos they create, and go out of their way to push people's buttons,” notes Aldrich.

Laziness and Irresponsibility

Those who are constantly late for work, miss deadlines and spend their work time surfing the Internet rank among employees who exhibit laziness and irresponsibility. When they fail to complete their work, they make excuses and even blame others for their failures. They show little concern for the success of their employer and don't seem to care much about their own careers, either.

About the Author

Ann Frederick has been a professional writer since 1993. She began her career as a television news producer and then transitioned into public relations, working for local, state and federal government agencies. Her professional awards include a silver ADDY. Frederick holds a Bachelor of Science in communications from Florida State University.

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