Law Practice Management

Slackers and Jerks at Work Can Decrease Team Performance by Up to 40%, Study Finds

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A no jerks policy at work can bring big paybacks for companies.

Research finds bad apples—such as slackers, pessimists, and angry or nasty people—can have a bigger impact at work than top performers, the Wall Street Journal reports in an article by Stanford management professor Robert Sutton.

Negative workers can reduce enthusiasm and change the mood, according to research (PDF) by Will Felps, Terence Mitchell and Eliza Byington. In one experiment, Felps found that just one slacker or jerk in a group can bring down performance by 30 percent to 40 percent.

A clothing retailer learned from experience when it fired a top-producing salesman who was a bad apple, the article says. After he was gone, none of the other sales people was able to match his sales numbers. But overall, total sales increased by 30 percent.

Negative interactions can also harm romantic relations, according to the story. Odds are that the relationship will fail if positive interactions don’t outnumber negative ones by a ratio of at least 5-to-1.

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