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Turns Out Hiring Talented Jerks isn’t Good Business after all


Companies love star employees. They love them so much that a lot of the human resources industry is geared toward hiring them.

Less attention is paid to making sure companies don’t hire toxic employees. A working paper from Harvard’s business school argues that shouldn’t be the case.

Entitled “Toxic Workers,” the paper found that employees that hurt the company do enough harm to outweigh the positive effects of star employees — even when those star employees are the ones who happen to be toxic. Specifically, the authors state that “we find that avoiding toxic workers is still better for the firm in terms of net profitability, despite losing out on a highly productive worker.”

Avoiding toxic workers might seem like a no-brainer, but there’s a catch — they’re often among the most productive workers. That’s not a terribly new idea (plenty of studies have validated that hypothesis), but the notion that star employees can be more trouble than they’re worth is.