The Real Costs of Bad Employees

Our CEO Peer Advisory Groups in Dallas often talk about the cost to find and keep good leaders in their companies. We also talk about the cost of keeping the bad ones. This video from OnlineMBA breaks down the enormous cost of horrible and even not-so-great bosses. “Bad Bosses” cost U.S. companies an estimated $360 Billion each year due to stress-related health expenses, legal fee for cases that escalate, productivity losses and other costs associated with employee turnover. I’ve worked with business leaders here in DFW who have had spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in court costs alone!

So what can you do about it?

Keep Great Leaders

As the Owner, CEO, or President of your company, you have the opportunity to create the culture and vision that enables you to find, build and keep great leaders. These are not just HR issues, they are everyone’s issues. Actually they are YOUR issues.

Employee retention is a problem that all great leaders face. The key to keeping good employees is not just the salary you offer them, or even the actual work they do, it is more about how they FEEL working in your team.

    • Do they feel valued?
    • Do they know what is expected of them?
    • Have you effectively provided the Tools and Training to succeed?
    • Does leadership provide them with timely feedback?
  • Do they see a clear path to growth in your company?

Be a “Good Boss”

Treat them right.

There are two kinds of bosses in the world; those who support their teams and have a positive overall impact on productivity, and those that do not. Unfortunately, a lot of bosses are making it harder to do great work. Today, nearly one-third of American employees report that they feel under-appreciated by their direct supervisors. A more surprising statistic is that 44% say that they’ve been verbally or even physically abused by a superior at some point in their careers. This is obviously NOT the way to keep great employees yet many of you allow this to happen in your company. Two of the Top Three reasons employees leave a company is because they are not treated well.

Invest in them.

Training and development is a good way to boost confidence and equip your leaders with the right skills. Investing in your team to help them develop their skills will benefit both the company and the employees. If we want a team that can meet the ever-increasing demands of the market we must commit to invest in them each year. Not just company Christmas parties but understand the potential and needs of your employees so you can provide the training and development they need to be a powerful force on your team.

I work with Business Leaders here in DFW to provide Leadership Development and Team Building support on an ongoing basis. This allows them to focus on their business and still provide the resources that helps their teams to grow. We have focused on developing solid Strategic Plans, Clarifying our Business Model to find our Next Big Opportunity, Time Management, Setting and Achieving Goals, Conflict Resolution, Building Our Brand, and much more. You can also send them to local colleges for courses or annual seminars like Leadercast to inspire and challenge their perspectives on leadership.

Engage them.

Your employees will live out the culture YOU create for them. You need to give them a Clear and Compelling example to follow, a safe environment to grow, and let them know they are being heard. Employees don’t leave bad companies they leave bad bosses. I think we should worry less about them leaving and more about them staying and never being engaged. They just do the bare minimum it takes to collect a paycheck and suck up all your energy trying to get them to do their job.


This starts with you creating a Vision of WHY we are doing all this and HOW we are going to make a difference in the world. Just targeting 25% growth for next year is not enough to get employees to engage and bring their A-game to work each day. You need a common vision that your leadership team consistently models from the top down so your team will adopt it and live it out in front of your customers. That is the type of culture that keeps great employees and gets more done.

Get rid of them – now.

Once you have done all you can do to cast a Clear and Compelling vision of what it takes to be a part of your team, and you’ve provided proper tools and training to do the job, you need to hold your team equally accountable to do it. When you let someone slide because they are “too valuable to lose,” you have an adverse affect on the rest of your team. Keeping a cancer on your team is worse that cutting it out and going through the process of healing again. Things rarely get better and usually get worse.

“There is only one thing worse than training your staff then having them leave,

and that’s NOT training or developing them and having them STAY!”  Zig ZIglar

Take Action Today.

In every case I’ve seen where the leaders of the company finally got around to removing these troublesome employees, the entire team came out and praised their action, stepped up to fill in the gaps, and things were better than they could have ever imagined. This is still a hard thing to do and that is one of the benefits of having a group of leaders like ours who will help you process through the tough choices and get things done.

Take time this week to evaluate your team and determine what areas need your attention to create and maintain the leadership and culture you desire. If you’re not sure what that looks like, ask your team – most of them will be glad to tell you.

Contact me to discuss how our CEO Peer Groups can help you lead and mentor your team with excellence. Contact me at (469) 269-5148.

by Robert Hunt

Other great articles you should read

6 Secrets to Hiring and Retaining Great Employees (Inc. Magazine)

8 Qualities of Remarkable Employees 

How I Find and Hire the World’s Best Employees

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