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4 Ways Difficult Attitudes and Behaviours Are Costing Your Business

July 2, 2020

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The cost of having people with difficult attitudes and behaviours in your workplace is often not measured effectively.

However, it’s important to remember that most difficult people don’t mean to be difficult, there’s usually a reason and there’s usually a solution.

Below are four ways they do damage, and some measures of that damage.

  1. Employee stress – mental health is front and centre in today’s chaotic world. One of the biggest causes of stress is the daily interaction with difficult people at work.


In Australia alone, the Australian Productivity Commission, in their draft report of October 2019, stated that in any year one in five people suffer mental health issues.

They also stated “The cost to the Australian economy of mental ill-health and suicide is, conservatively, in the order of $43 to $51 billion per year. Additional to this is an approximately $130 billion cost associated with diminished health and reduced life expectancy for those living with mental ill-health.”

Absenteeism and stress leave are calculated into the above costs.

  1. Loss of productivity – Difficult people consume the time of other members trying to work with them.


That lost time can be measured monetarily at the hourly rate of the member losing the time plus the member’s lost production opportunities.

Example: a difficult person is consuming an hour of a member’s time, where the member could be otherwise producing essential work.   Let’s say the member is earning $80,000 per annum and whose efforts generate $240,000 per annum (based on the idea that a person generates 3X salary to be viable).  Thus the hourly cost of the member dealing with that difficult person can be calculated as: $80,000 ÷ (40hours per week x 52 weeks) + $240,000 ÷ (40 x 52) = $153.84 per hournot including the difficult person’s salary and productivity.

  1. Damage to the company’s reputation – Difficult people can be abrupt, even rude and without patience or care when dealing with customers, causing reputational damage and loss of clients. Social media spreads bad news fast and wide!


How do you measure loss of reputation?  Is it lost opportunity alone?  What is the cost of losing a previously loyal client?  What about share price if a public company?

Oxfam lost donors over the Haiti sex scandal; Unite Airlines lost business for dragging a customer off a plane.

  1. Lowered Staff Retention – Difficult people cause good people to leave, especially if their difficult behaviour is ignored or tolerated.


The cost of staff replacement is calculated at between 1.5. and 3 times salary, depending on experience, complexity and replacement availability.


Discovering the causes of and solution to difficult attitudes and behaviour requires a blend of science and skill.

Procrastination comes at great expense!

How many difficult people do you have and what’s it costing your business?

Contact me for a conversation about how to remedy the situation.

Ready for Action?

Book a chat with David
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