There are a handful of offenses that will definitely get a guy fired, like embezzling money, harassing a coworker, and showing up to the office reeking of bourbon. Short of those things, you can get away with an awful lot in most workplaces without drawing the axe.
Too bad: Many should-be fireable behaviors are the ones that kill morale and productivity. Here are seven guys who deserve to be canned, but will probably survive the chopping block—unless you show this article to HR.
The Bully in Charge
Power and insecurity make for a rotten combo. Unfortunately, plenty of self-doubting men end up in positions of authority.
“Roughly 70 percent of office bullying comes from the top down,” says David Yamada, director of the New Workplace Institute at Suffolk University Law School. “Repeated verbal abuse, riding someone, and poking fun are all things managers tend to get away with.”
Why he should go: Not only are good workers likely to head elsewhere in order to get away from this jerk, but bullying bosses pose a public health threat due to their contributions to employee stress, Yamada says.
The Weak Link
He busts his butt on his own—when his reputation is on the line. But when it comes to group or collaborative projects, he lets everyone else do the heavy lifting.
“He can be charming, but at some point you realize he’s taking credit for work that you and others performed,” says Roy Cohen, a career counselor and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.
Why he should go: While solo work is a big part of any productive company, collaborative efforts are at least as essential to your business’s success, finds a study from consulting firm Gensler. If this guy is undercutting his team’s achievements, he’s hurting his company’s bottom line.
He’s not quite a Ron Burgundy-level boaster—“Veronica and I had sex last night!”—but tasteful discretion is hardly the name of his game. He tries to hook up with every attractive woman on the company payroll, and he’s boastful of his infrequent successes.
He’s also the first person to spread the word about any office romances—to everyone’s embarrassment.
Why he should go: Roughly 40 percent of office workers have engaged in a little peer-to-peer canoodling. A lot of those hookups end in one person leaving their job, shows a survey from CareerBuilder. This guy’s kiss-and-tell MO won’t just lead to good people leaving for new pastures, but his behavior will also increase employee distraction, distrust, and dissatisfaction, finds a study in the Western Journal of Communication.
He has exactly one reaction to any new assignment, company initiative, or shift in his typical routine: indignation. He’s ticked off by life in general, but especially by the travesty of having to work.
Why he should go: Not only do you have to hear him gripe about everything, but you can also feel his bad attitude infecting your own approach to work. A study from Michigan State University found general negativity in the workplace can fuel a significant drop-off in productivity.
He’s constantly gabbing with you and everyone else about his weekend plans or last night’s ballgame. Does he think he’s at the office, or on the golf course?
“Besides keeping you from getting your work done, he generally talks about himself or topics that interest him alone,” Cohen adds. “It’s a one-sided conversation with virtually no benefit to you, his other colleagues, or the organization.”
Why he should go: Employee-on-employee distraction is a performance killer, shows research from Australia’s University of Sydney. In fact, “open plan” workplaces that encourage lots of employee mingling are a big driver of distraction and worker dissatisfaction, according to the study.
Ganging up on one person is pretty common in the office, Yamada says. “This may involve ostracizing someone from meetings and after-hours events, or making their job harder.”
Yamada calls these “micro-level aggravations,” and while they’re perpetrated by a group, there’s typically one person at the head of the pack leading the charge. “You often see this kind of aggression directed toward the most successful person by average or marginal employees,” he says.
Why he should go: Again, Yamada says the creation of a hostile, bullying work environment not only hurts productivity, but also contributes to employee stress and all its accompanying health issues, like depression and heart disease.
He’s a dedicated go-getter in front of company brass. But when the bosses aren’t around, he undercuts his peers and underlings in order to make himself look good. “He might sabotage someone behind closed doors, or leave them out of the loop when it comes to important meetings or emails,” Yamada says. He’s in the game for one guy only: himself.
Why he should go: 86 percent of workers cite “lack of collaboration” as an explanation for workplace failures, finds a study from the consulting firm Fierce, Inc.