Horrible colleagues: can't work with them, can't fire them either
In the workplace, horrible bosses are bad, but there are villains at lower levels too.
In 2020, an employee at a government-owned company was fired for bullying one superior and being raunchy with a male colleague — and eventually assaulting him.
The employee held a grudge against a female superior who was younger than him and publicly expressed his contempt. He made humiliating remarks to the superior and tried to exclude her from the work process by creating online chatrooms that excluded her.
To a male colleague 13 years his junior, he constantly asked sexual questions and cursed when he tried to duck them. The two got drunk and eventually violence erupted: the older guy choked the younger.
The company canned him, and, unsurprisingly, he took it to court. He claimed all his behavior was related to his "close relationships" with the victims and emphasized that he had “worked diligently for 10 years.”
The court took the company's side, ruling that some workplace behavior simply goes beyond the socially acceptable level.
Among the various types of office villains, the worst are people who make inappropriate comments and talk down to their co-workers, according to job search website Incruit. This kind of behavior not only hurts office morale but often leads to lawsuits.
“There are cases where workers do not admit their faults and instead blame them on the company, even suing their colleagues and the company after leaving the firm," said Cho Sang-wook, a partner at Yulchon, a major law firm in Korea.
He continued, “Once any reports related to workplace bullying are made to the firm, the company needs to investigate and go through the facts. Even though it takes time, the company needs to stick to the response decided to prevent additional damages.”
Another baddie in the workplace is the person who takes credit for others' achievements — and shifts blame whenever possible. Other bad types: people who are lazy, those who ask questions about trivial things that can easily be found online, and those who are only interested in dating and other people's love lives.
“There are often difficulties in managing the team because of some free riders,” said Yoon Dong-yeol, a business professor at Konkuk University.
“The way to address the issue is to make sure the compensation system is based on achievements. A communication channel for workers to communicate with the human resources department and shifting to a horizontal organizational structure are other ways.”
As many companies are allowing remote work, new types of offenders have emerged: those who do not pick up their phones at home, workers who show up late to virtual meetings, or those who insist on dressing in pajamas and having loud background noise.
Frugal employees who do not wish to pay for meals at work and kkondae, which refers to stubborn elders in Korean, are other types of people that average offices dislike.
Kkondae is a term used to describe someone who patronizes younger people or forces their ideas and experiences on them.
As major companies deal with such cases with harsh punishments and consequences, there are many cases that lead to court.
“Negative behaviors are likely to expand in the office if we just let the so-called office villains get away with it in workplaces, according to several studies,” said a spokesperson for Incruit.
“There is a higher possibility that skilled employees may leave the company. Companies should strengthen measures to prevent such situations through corporate training programs, campaigns and consultations, and get prepared in terms of human resources management and legal training for future cases.”
BY SOHN HAE-YONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]