By Lucy Lopez

study from Harvard Business School found that not only are toxic employees bad for office culture, but they make everyone else less productive, too.

Researchers analyzed data on approximately 60,000 workers from 11 different companies, and looked specifically at employees whose awful office conduct led to termination. They concluded that any given company will save more than $12,000 if they can avoid hiring a toxic employee.

How can you spot a toxic worker? The researchers identify three characteristics:

  • Selfishness: They think highly of themselves, and have little regard for others.
  • Overconfidence: They think they can do no wrong. This might lead to troublesome behavior (e.g., stealing from the company) because they’re convinced they can get away with it.
  • They Say They Always Follow the Rules: Maybe the most surprising characteristic, it’s the people who say they always follow the rules — versus those who would admit to sometimes breaking them — who are most likely to be fired for breaking the rules. Good luck wrapping your head around that one, Human Resources department.

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