How Do Co-Workers Affect Employee Behavior?

If you work with someone who constantly complains or who mistreats fellow employees, you may dread coming to work even if you like your job. Employees have a profound impact on their co-workers’ job performance and job satisfaction, and a poor work ethic and attitude can drive colleagues to other employers. Behavior can be contagious in the sense that employees often model — whether consciously or unconsciously — the actions and attitudes of their workplace peers.


When employees witness their co-workers being bullied, the experience hurts morale throughout the company or department. A study monitoring nurses at 41 hospital units found that those who worked in a bullying environment were more likely to want to quit their jobs even if they weren’t bullied. In extreme cases, bullying by one employee can lead to widespread bullying because if management doesn’t step in, employees may feel no one is going to call them on their behavior.


In his “Inc.” article “Managing Difficult Employees: Does Your Rock Star Have a Bad Attitude?” John Treace warns of the danger of what he calls the “high-performing bad apple.” This kind of employee is consistently negative, belittling the company, challenging authority, and complaining about everything. This attitude usually spreads, Treace said, with even normally happy, satisfied employees adopting the attitude of the “bad apple” and turning against the company.


Employees influence the productivity of their co-workers, with peer pressure playing a significant role in how well employees perform. When surrounded by hard-working, high-achieving colleagues, employees are more likely to perform better because they feel pressure to measure up to their co-workers and because they see the level of achievement possible through hard work. Likewise, if they work in a low-output environment, performances may suffer.


The influence of co-workers often inspires professionals to start their own businesses or shift to freelance work or independent contracting, as researchers from Stanford and Harvard universities discovered after studying workers in Denmark who became first-time entrepreneurs between 1990 and 1997. The researchers found that the new entrepreneurs were more likely to have worked with former entrepreneurs before going out on their own. Even if the former entrepreneurs had failed at their enterprises, they still influenced colleagues to give it a shot, perhaps because they could provide insight into what the experience was like, researchers speculated.


Leave a Reply

Follow Us



20 Mind-Blowing Facts About Warren Buffett

Those who knew him from the beginning, Buffett's success comes as no surprise: He was picking out stocks at 11 years old and had amassed the equivalent...

British Ecological Society Ecologists in Africa grants

This grant provides support of up to £8,000 for ecologists in Africa to carry out innovative ecological research. Objectives This grant provides support for Ecologists in...

MasterCard Foundation and Innovation Village Future of Work Accelerator Program

Application Deadline: January 31st 2020 The Innovation Village in collaboration with MasterCard Foundation is launching an Accelerator program that will support promising technology startups to...

18 Months Post-Doctoral Fellowship at University of Lagos

Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development, University of Lagos This post is to join the Lagos team of the Appropriation of Informal Spaces for Leisure Physical...

Finalists for 2019 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians Announced

The most anticipated annual list of young Nigerians, 100 Most Influential Young Nigerians, which is curated by leading PR & Rating firm, Avance Media, has been released.