How To Handle A Disrespectful Employee

How To Handle A Disrespectful Employee

Do you sometimes wonder how to handle a disrespectful employee in your workplace?

Regardless of the type of organization, having to put up with a disrespectful employee can be very challenging.

Unfortunately, this is the dilemma in many organizations today.

This is because of the different personality differences that make up an organization.

As a business owner, this is something you ought to take seriously.

This is because a disrespectful employee can negatively impact your business.

Not only can it affect the productivity of your entire team, but it can also affect your relationship with customers.

If care is not taken and something is not done soon, a disrespectful employee can ruin your business.

Thankfully, it doesn’t have to come down to that.

Allow us to show you what a disrespectful employee really entails or how to identify a disrespectful employee.

You will also see the negative effects of having a disrespectful employee.

We’ll also show you how to handle a disrespectful employee.

To begin, let us look at what disrespect really means and who a disrespectful employee is.

What Is Disrespect?

To effectively handle a disrespectful employee, it is important that you clearly understand what it means to be disrespectful.

Disrespect is simply the opposite of respect.

Respect has been defined as the show of admiration and great regard for someone mainly due to their position, authority, abilities, and/or qualities.

It can also be referred to as esteem.

Therefore, when you hold someone in high esteem, you have great respect for the person.

Even more, genuine respect for others is all about treating people nicely regardless of their status, achievement, or position.

On the other hand, disrespect is an act of lack of regard for someone.

A disrespectful person often acts in an offensive, impolite, or even insulting manner to people.

Disrespect can come in various ways, ranging from speaking rudely to another person, not following set rules, or even lack regard for culture.

In every walk of life, you are most likely to find those who can be categorized as disrespectful, and they are anything but fun.

How To Handle Disrespectful Employees -Who is a Disrespectful Employee?

In line with the definition of disrespect stated above, a disrespectful employee can thus be defined as a staff/team member of an organization who exhibits the aforementioned traits.

He/She is an employee who shows no regard for the authority set in place in the workplace or his/her superiors.

Additionally, some disrespect from employees might be to their fellow team members and colleagues.

This could be exhibited through uncultured utterings, rude remarks, and sometimes even violence towards their colleagues.

A disrespectful employee might also stubbornly and deliberately refuse to acknowledge and follow laid down rules and policies in the workspace.

A disrespectful employee would always pose problems for other members of the organization.

If left unattended, their presence in the organization can be detrimental to its growth and development.

That being said, let us see how to identify a disrespectful employee.

In other words, what are those tell-tale signs or behavioral traits of a disrespectful employee you should look out for?

How to Handle a Disrespectful Employee – How to Identify One

The human resource manager of any organization shouldn’t take disrespectful behaviors from employees with levity.

If you don’t handle it, disrespectful employees can threaten the workplace’s safety, sanity, and orderliness.

In fact, it can also be a threat to the success of the business itself.

With that in mind, what are some pointers to disrespectful behaviors in the workplace?

What should you notice that indicates a particular employee is threading the path of disrespect and must be cautioned?

Here are a few of them:

Tardiness (Frequent Late coming)

Every organized establishment or company has its policies regarding the time of resumption to work.

These rules and policies are set up to cultivate professionalism and respect for authority in the workplace.

Imagine you have an employee who has made it a habit to come late to work every day?

While few instances of late-coming with valid reasons can be pardoned and overlooked, making it a habit cannot.

It’s best to tackle this immediately by calling such an employee to order.

However, if there is no noticeable improvement or change and a lack of remorse for that, it’s a sign of disrespect.

It simply shows that such an employee has no regard for your laid down rules.

Lack of Consideration for Co-Workers

Another sign of a disrespectful employee is when such employee lacks concern for other employees in the workplace.

Do you have an employee who is selfish and always wants to have his/her way to the detriment of others?

That is a red flag as far as being disrespectful is concerned.

They might show this lack of consideration by neglecting their own duties and putting unnecessary pressure on others.

It could also be that they do not leave things organized the way they meet them, and their colleagues will have to clear the mess.

A lack of consideration for co-workers can be in the form of a lack of diligence towards work.

This might cause difficulties for other employees.

Additionally, a disrespectful employee can also show a lack of regard or consideration for co-workers by not respecting their personal space and/or properties.

This they might do by intruding in their privacy or using their personal belongings without permission.

When you notice all these, it is a sign of a disrespectful employee that you must handle promptly.

Failure to Listen

This has got to be one of the most glaring signs of a disrespectful attitude from an employee.

As a business owner or manager, time and again, you would have cause to correct and instruct your employees.

If you have an employee who outrightly fails to listen when you talk to them, that employee is disrespectful.

Most times, you will notice in such employees that they prefer rather look away or press their phone when you’re talking to them.

They might also neglect your questions without providing answers or grumble under their breath as you speak.

This is also a great indicator of a disrespectful employee and should not be taken for granted.

Making Decisions Without Due Consultation

There is always a limit to the authority given to your employees, and they have the responsibility of answering to a superior.

In some instances, though, certain employees might begin to take matters into their own hands and make important decisions outside their jurisdiction.

When this happens, it shows a flagrant disregard for the hierarchy at the workplace and a lack of respect for you as the employer.

If left uncorrected, this act of disrespect can spread to other employees.

Thereby causing long-term damage to the business.

Rudeness To Co-Workers And Customers 

An employee needs to be polite when dealing with colleagues at the workplace and, by extension, customers.

Have you noticed a pattern in how one of your employees addresses his/her co-workers and customers, which is impolite?

Such an employee might speak harshly at all times when handling customer complaints or interacting with other staff.

When you notice you have an employee who is constantly and unapologetically rude, it’s also a sign that they lack respect.

Use of Offensive Language/Swear Words

This is an extension of the rude remarks that were mentioned above.

There is no excuse for the use of profanities or swear words in the workspace.

Not even anger or provocation should make your employee’s reaction deteriorate into the use of abusive speech and profane words.

Therefore, if you have an employee with such behavior, it’s a sign of being disrespectful.

Interrupting A Superior When Receiving Counsel 

An employee can show a disrespectful attitude while at work by not allowing the superior to speak.

When you have cause to correct them or direct them properly, they do not let you finish talking before they talk back.

They feel they know it all and should not be corrected by you or another superior.

In fact, they believe that whatever they have to say is more valuable and important than yours.

This is a major sign of disrespectfulness.

Overstepping Boundaries Repeatedly Undoubtedly

You have clear boundaries in your company that guide behavior in your organization.

These boundaries are necessary so that everything can go on smoothly and in an organized manner.

However, do you have an employee who constantly oversteps the set boundaries?

Maybe he/she takes things they are not authorized to or visits areas that are out of bounds for them.

It could also be that they constantly open confidential files or snoop around when confidential matters are discussed in the office.

In such situations, you are dealing with a disrespectful employee.

Never Apologizing for their Mistakes 

We are all humans. Therefore, we are bound to make mistakes from time to time.

Just as a business owner, you’re not immune to mistakes; you should also not expect perfection from your employees.

However, making mistakes is not the issue here.

The problem comes when you have employees that do not admit their errors and apologize for them.

Most especially when their mistakes have caused problems or challenges for other team members or the business as a whole.

Not admitting mistakes and failing to offer sincere apologies for them is a sign of pride and disrespect from an employee.

Being Resentful Towards Co-Workers

A disrespectful employee is also someone who is not humble enough to pardon the trespasses of his/her co-workers.

Instead of communicating openly with them when things go wrong, they prefer silent treatment.

They go around at work, snubbing their colleagues and keeping malice with everyone.

As such, they are difficult to work with and make the office environment unfriendly.


Bullying still happens in the workplace, and adults also bully fellow adults.

An employee might bully a colleague because he/she feels more privileged or believes he has more abilities than others.

They might also bully others because of their looks, beliefs, language or culture, or even their way of speaking.

No one deserves to be subjected to such treatment, and it is a sign of disrespect from that employee.

Other Forms of NonVerbal Rude Reactions

Some other disrespectful behaviors from employees that you should handle might be non-verbal but displayed in their reactions.

This includes: rolling of eyes, hissing, sighing, making weird and angry faces, raising eyebrows,s e.t.c.

You also need to pay close attention to these signs; they also signify a disrespectful employee.

Negative Impact of Failing to Handle a Disrespectful Employee 

Having an employee who is disrespectful in your organization is not something to savor.

This is because there are lots of negative effects and demerits that come with that.

These disadvantages should spur you to take the necessary measures in handling a disrespectful employee when you notice one.

Some of the negative impact of having a disrespectful employee are:

It Saps Productivity and Reduces Revenue 

Isn’t it amazing that having an employee who lacks respect can reduce the revenue your business generates?

To be certain, it can.

When you have disrespectful employees, they spell problems and troubles for their colleagues regularly.

Because of this, you will find that the time that should be spent in getting productive and making money would be spent settling disputes and discord.

Additionally, because an employee is disrespectful, others might not like working together with such one.

This affects the overall productivity of your team and, by extension, your income generation.

Loss of Customers 

Few things anger a customer than getting rude replies or remarks from a business representative.

One unfortunate thing with disrespectful employees is that their disrespect is not limited to colleagues but extends to customers.

If you have a disrespectful employee in your ranks, this can increase your chances of losing patronage and customers.

This is because your customers would rather go to a place where they are valued and held in high esteem, as they should.

It Creates a Toxic Workplace 

One thing about being treated without respect is that it has a high tendency of spreading to others.

That means that when you have 1 disrespectful employee, that behavior could spread fast and affect others in the workplace.

Because of this, those treated disrespectfully would have no problem treating others the same way.

Before long, you have to deal with a toxic environment in your workplace, whereby people no longer regard others.

That simply shows just what damage a disrespectful employee can cause.

Violence at Workplace

People’s responses to cases of disrespect and insults differ.

While some of your employees would deal with a disrespectful employee in a more professional, calm, and civil way, others might not.

Because some individuals have a short temper, having a disrespectful employee around can cause tempers to flare.

This might eventually lead to violent behaviors at the workplace, where your staff starts throwing things or even throwing blows.

Loss of Employees or Low Employee Retention Rate

Just as a disrespectful employee can cause you to lose customers, they can lose more employees.

As we earlier stated, the way people react to negative situations differs.

While some might have the endurance to keep going, others might resort to violence, and still, others might just choose to leave.

If you leave the problem of one disrespectful employee unsolved, you run the risk of losing many more employees to that.

Impact on Mental Health 

Sometimes, having to deal with a disrespectful employee in the workspace constantly can impact the mental health of co-workers.

There have been increased stress levels, depression and anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts due to the high level of disrespectful behaviors.

Hence, when you do not promptly address a disrespectful employee’s problem, your staff’s mental health could suffer.

Stunted Business Growth or Collapse of Business

Oh yes, one disrespectful employee can eventually lead to the total collapse or death of your business.

This comes as no surprise, given the various impacts they can have on a business,s as considered above.

When there is a toxic workplace, more and more employees will leave, even the best hands.

This will definitely affect productivity and eventually reduce patronage of your business.

Need we also mention that it would cause you to lose more revenue in the process.

Your business growth becomes stunted, and it is only a matter of time before your business collapse finally.

How to Handle a Disrespectful Employee 

Disrespectful behavior in the workplace is like a deadly disease, which can easily spread if not quickly checked and nullified.

Having seen some of the negative effects, this can have on your business, it would profit you to know how to handle such in your place of work.

When you apply these recommended methods, you can ensure your workplace is a haven of peace and accord.

A place where everyone is held in high esteem instead of a breeding place for disrespect and negativity.

Hire Employees with High Moral Standards 

There is a common saying that ‘Prevention is better than cure.

This saying applies when it comes to handling a disrespectful employee.

Certainly, avoiding the scenario of a disrespectful employee in the first place is more effective than solving the problem when it arises.

So, how do you do this?

A lot depends on your recruitment process.

Therefore, when hiring employees, focus on background information about applicants that provide insight into their level of morality.

Usually, employees with high moral standards and identity do not walk down the disgraceful path of disrespect in the workplace.

Do this, and you would have done so much to reduce the problem of having to deal with an employee that lacks respect.

Identify Disrespectful Behaviours in the Workplace

Another thing you as a business owner needs to do to handle disrespectful employees effectively is to know what constitutes disrespect.

This is very important because only when you know, this can you address it.

You should take care not to misjudge cultural differences or language barriers as a sign of disrespect.

For example, some certain cultures and traditions require some forms of action while greeting a superior.

Other cultures might differ in their position when it comes to what posture to assume while greeting.

While you do not want to tolerate disrespect, be sure not to impose your personal preferences or cultural opinions on all your employees.

It would be nice to clearly identify what could be termed as an act of disrespect so you can handle it when it happens.

Understand the Root Cause and Circumstances Surrounding It

When it comes to dealing with disrespectful employees, you must understand the cause of such disrespect.

In doing so, you will need to find out if the case of disrespect is an isolated occurrence or it has become a pattern.

If it is an isolated incidence, could it be that certain happenings on that particular day made the employee rude or disrespectful?

Also, when you take time as an employer to objectively analyze the cause of disrespect, you might find out if it’s a problem with the individual’s mental health.

That way, instead of being harsh, you might be in the best position to get professional assistance for such an employee.

Do Not Blame Yourself 

There is a tendency for your to start blaming yourself whenever you have a subordinate who is disrespectful.

Questions like this start going through your mind:

Am I not qualified to be superior?

Is there something I am not doing right in my relationship with this person?

What if I am the one who is not valuable and doesn’t deserve respect?

Well, it is always good to be objective when faced with this situation and avoid the temptation of blaming yourself.

Note that some of these disrespectful employees are just insecure about themselves.

With this insecurity, they only get to feel good about themselves by looking down on others or degrading them.

Also, the employee in question might even be suffering some personality disorder traits which you know nothing about.

Therefore, refrain from blaming yourself for disrespectful behaviors from an employee.

Maintain Zero Tolerance to Disrespect in the Workplace and Make this Very Clear 

It is also important for you to let all your employees know that you do not tolerate disrespectful behavior from the word go.

This can be indicated in their letters of appointment and even in some information posted around the office to stress proper behavior at work.

Also, inform your employees that any case of insult or disrespect from their colleague(s) should be promptly reported to you for necessary action.

Handle the Disrespectful Employee by Communication

The last thing you want to do is handle disrespectful employees with indifference or neglect.

We know you can feel justifiably angry when dealing with a disrespectful employee, but anger shouldn’t make you give them silent treatment.

You must communicate with them and let them know you are not happy with their attitude.

Be sure to point out specific situations when they have demonstrated utter disrespect either to you, their colleagues or to customers.

During such communications, you allow them to express themselves and possibly explain their actions, if any.

It also allows you to see any show of remorse and monitor changes in their behavior in the future.

Organize Training on Employee Relationships and Customer Service 

At regular intervals, organize training for your employees on the interpersonal relationship in the workplace and customer service etiquette.

Sometimes, this training proves effective or even more effective than personal discussions with a disrespectful employee.

During such meetings, be sure to mention the disadvantages of disrespectful behaviors in the place of work.

Also, stress to the team why teamwork is important and outline the practical benefits that come from it.

Hopefully, this will help to readjust a disrespectful employee and set him/her straight.

Set a Fine Example 

It is a consensus that people easily learn from what they see others do than what they hear them say.

When correcting a disrespectful employee, you can do more by your example as the employer.

As a leader in the workplace, demonstrate fine qualities by listening to all employees and allowing them to express themselves.

Also, set a good example in punctuality and dedication to work.

Do not scream/shout at your employees or customers or use abusive or offensive language.

Additionally, work at building interpersonal relationships with your staff, creating an environment where everyone feels like family.

When you do all these, your employees are watching, and a disrespectful one might learn from your fine example.

Don’t Speak Bad of them to Other Employees.

While it is true that having a disrespectful employee is not a thing of joy, you as an employer must avoid the temptation of talking ill of them with their co-workers.

When you start discussing the disrespect of employees with other subordinates, you are creating a hostile environment where distrust thrives.

Not only that, it shows you are not professional,l and you might even start losing the respect of other employees too.

Take Disciplinary Actions 

As an employer, if you notice that the disrespectful behavior of an employee is getting out of hand and consistent, the onus is on you to correct him/her.

However, after a series of corrections, disciplinary actions might be taken if there are no conscious and deliberate changes.

These disciplinary actions might be in the form of queries, warning letters, or even suspension, as the case may be.

With this, such an employee will understand the gravity of the offense, and it would also serve as a warning to others.

By so doing, you can preserve the integrity and orderliness of your workplace.

If Need Be, Courageously Pluck the Bad Apple 

When an apple on a tree of apples gets bad, the first inclination of a farmer might be giving a tree to salvage that apple and protect others.

However, if all efforts to cure proves abortive, the rot might begin to spread to others.

The same is true in the workplace.

While it is not the goal or joy of any employer to have to fire an employee, sometimes it might come down to that option.

After all the methods analyzed have been affected, and there is no noticeable improvement, it might be time to say ‘Good-Bye.’

You need to be courageous enough to decide on terminating the employment of an unrepentant disrespectful employee.

Most especially if their actions or inactions are beginning to cause more harm than good for the organization, resulting in losses and affecting co-workers physically or emotionally.

Conclusion on How to Handle Disrespectful Employees 

Condoling disrespectful behavior in your organization poses great danger and risks for your business.

Not only does it adversely affect your team’s performance, but it can make you lose customers in your business.

Before long, your business will suffer from this.

Therefore, you must follow the signs and indicators of disrespectful employees and handle them promptly.

By so doing, you can protect your business from ruin and enjoy outstanding business success, which has always been the goal.