Home Curiosity How Toxic Co-workers Affect Your Health, Stress, and Performance

How Toxic Co-workers Affect Your Health, Stress, and Performance


You have just bagged your dream job. There’s the surety of a paycheck, being independent, and the opportunity to polish your skills. The thought of the workplace being a toxic place is very far from your mind. Yet, the issue of toxicity is common in most workplaces. One of the most subtle sources of this toxicity comes from coworkers.

The toxic coworker impedes productivity and brings about workplace incivility. They are the proverbial rotten egg that causes a ripple effect both to the company or business and coworkers. They bring about disagreements and differences in the workplace. Some of them may masquerade as friendly and nice people, but deep inside, the aim is to exploit you. A toxic relationship quiz can help you to determine the kind of coworkers you’re dealing with. Below are effects caused by toxic co-workers:

1.Detrimental Health Issues

Amiable coworkers give you a sense of belonging. On the other hand, toxic coworkers will cause a downward spiral in your health. If there is constant pressure at work, it may predispose you to several illnesses. Examples of the health effects brought about by toxic coworkers are;

  • High Blood Pressure: Have you ever worked in an environment with a demanding boss who is never satisfied with the work you do? They build unworkable expectations, tight deadlines, and a heavy workload. Working constantly under such pressure conditions can cause your heart to beat faster and narrow your blood vessels, resulting in high blood pressure.
  • Increased Risk of Coronary Heart Disease: A demanding workplace gradually increases stress levels, which in turn increases blood cholesterol. This is a trigger for heart disease. In some cases, it has also led to cardiac arrests.

2.Stress-Related Effects Stemming From Toxic Coworkers

Toxic coworkers who bully other coworkers cause crippling effects to their mental state. The areas undermined by stress may be in feelings, behaviour, or reasoning. Some of the stress-related conditions that toxic coworkers trigger include;

  • Reduced Self-Worth: When your coworkers are continually belittling your efforts and abilities, you are bound to lose your self-worth. This takes a toll on you as you doubt your capacity in the workplace. It can also destroy your ability to take purposeful risks, thereby harming your productivity.
  • Depression: Unprofessional and unfair punitive measures, feeling undervalued, and receiving destructive criticism can have a severe effect on your mental health. First, you will get frustrations and experience bouts of anger. With time, your mental health deteriorates, leading to depression. Once you’re depressed, your productivity significantly drops as you’re unable to focus. Eventually, you risk losing your job.
  • Paranoia: Bad-mouthing and threatening coworkers cause panic and instability by flooding the victims’ minds with thoughts of being laid off. There is also a great distrust of others. The ripple effect is that this also lowers your morale to perform on the job.

3. How Toxic Coworkers Affect Performance

There are different kinds of toxic people in an organization. There is the bully who derives fun from making fun of others. There is the coworker who takes all the credit for work done. There is the overbearing boss who bawls out orders every time. And then there is the chatterbox that seems to know it all. All these workers have a damaging effect on the performance of their coworkers. Some of the effects of toxicity on performance include;

  • Effort Decline: Due to fear of criticism from the fault-finder bosses, employees are afraid of going the extra mile. The toxic critic at the workplace limits the employees’ innovative aspect as they result in doing just what is needed.
  • Constant Absenteeism: Absenteeism will be on the rise in workplaces where there are toxic coworkers. Sometimes, the reasons for absenteeism may be questionable as some may be absent just to stay away from work overload. In worst-case scenarios, it may be that the employees are sick due to stressful work conditions.
  • Lost Time: Coworkers who are always breathing fire down their colleagues’ necks cause them to waste time. This happens when the victims are trying to avoid the culprits or as they buy time before delivering any work.

The Bottom Line

The detrimental effects of toxic coworker cannot be overemphasized. Going by the health risks they impose, the mental issues they cause, and their impact on performance, these issues are hard to brush aside. If you are working in an environment that has toxic coworkers, don’t resign yourself to fate. Instead, take action immediately. You can start by talking to them about their behaviours to see if they will change.  If they are unwilling to change, raise the issue with your superiors and let them handle it. If all your efforts fail, it’s better you look for work elsewhere than compromise your health, mental state, and performance.