It’s difficult to calculate the exact cost of difficult behaviours in the workplace, but they can have a significant impact.

Even one toxic person in a team can greatly reduce productivity and effectiveness of the rest of the team due to the time spent trying to deal with, or work around, the difficult individual.

Here are some of the common impacts difficult behaviours can have:

Decreased productivity

Lost productivity is the number one impact of difficult behaviours in the workplace. Rather than focusing on work, employees spend time figuring out how to deal with a certain colleague that exhibits difficult behaviour.

Consider this scenario: An employee working a 40-hour per week role averages 30 hours per week of direct service to the company, taking into consideration annual leave, sick leave and meetings. If this employee earns $50,000 pa and loses one hour of productivity per day, the annual cost to the company in lost wages and benefits is over $9,000.

Employee stress

One of the biggest causes of workplace stress is difficult employee interactions. In fact, the cost of employee stress to Australian business is more than 10 million dollars each year.


Toxic work conditions, like dealing with a colleague that can be difficult to deal with, can increase the rate of unexplained absences and sick leave.

Cost of replacing staff

For many employees, it’s easier to move on from a role than deal with difficult behaviour from a colleague each day. If this becomes a regular occurrence, the cost to a business can be substantial. The cost of replacing and training new employees starts at approximately 30-100% of the employee’s annual salary and go reach upwards of 300% depending on the position.

There’s also additional costs like:

  • The loss of embedded knowledge that goes with employees when they leave.
  • Decrease in productivity from when one staff member leave and a new employee is hired and onboarded.
  • A negative impact on employee morale and organisational culture.
  • Added stress on other staff members and management that have to cover the work for an empty position.
  • Potential overtime expenses so existing staff can cover the additional workload.


If you have employees that exhibit difficult behaviours interacting with clients, there is a potential for this to have a negative impact to the business’ reputation as well as revenue. These instances may include:

  • Dealing with customer service representatives that are angry or rude.
  • Encountering people who do not want to be at work.
  • Overhearing employees complain about their work or other employees.

Every workplace will at some time encounter the effects of difficult people. The good news is there are tools, strategies and techniques you can use to help you better deal with difficult behaviours.

If you’d like to learn more about dealing with people, ask us about our ‘Dealing with Difficult People Workshop‘ which can be tailored to suit your organisation and team and can be run as a half day or full day session.

The workshop is a gamechanger for participants who will learn to recognise and understand difficult behaviours and leave empowered with the tools, techniques and strategies to deal with them in a positive and assertive manner.