How to Identify Toxic Employee Cliques in Your Business

How to Identify Toxic Employee Cliques in Your Business

toxic employee clique

Is it possible that the productivity and morale of your team suffering at the hands of toxic employee cliques? An uncomfortable workplace atmosphere or a downturn in performance might not lead you to think first of toxic employees. You might question the competency of your leadership or your own business strategy first, but a negative evolution within corporate culture can have a surprisingly erosive impact—often going unnoticed until substantial damage has been done.

At a most basic level, the formation of toxic employee cliques inevitably leads to a loss of profits, stalling workplace momentum, operational issues, and a rise in staff turnover. At the more insidious end of the scale, toxic culture can culminate in discrimination or workplace harassment complaints, and all of the potential legal and reputational complications that can follow.

Of course, every organization wants to see its employees get along. Strong working relationships can foster fantastic morale and cohesion when those bonds are healthy. So, how can employers tell the difference? Here, we will examine some of the tell-tale signs that a toxic employee clique may be impacting your business, and how professional workplace investigations can help you transform corporate culture for the better.

Negative Narratives Become Currency in the Workplace

While feedback is a vital progression tool within any company, a constant negative undertone is a strong indicator that toxic employees may be steering the dominant narrative within a workplace. That chronic negativity may manifest as gossip, backstabbing, or rumor spreading, or it may appear in more passive-aggressive forms—such as body language, sarcastic tones, disrespecting boundaries, cynicism, victimhood, and undermining others.

While team members of course need to vent on occasion, holding workplace narratives within a negative frame leaves no oxygen in the room for motivation, objective seeking, or innovative thinking. Toxicity tends to nourish itself, relegating the needs of others and of the company itself to the wayside.

A Tight-Knit Group Shows Signs of Ostracizing Others

Those who are embraced by a toxic employee clique may not notice the need for alarm bells immediately. However, for those left on the outside, the impact of a workplace clique’s presence will be felt immediately. Those excluded will begin to feel undervalued, dissatisfied, and demotivated. Meanwhile, the root cause of lost productivity and a dropping bottom line can remain elusive for those who don’t know the warning signs. While workplace friendships can be immensely valuable, they should never come at a cost to colleagues’ well-being, or company success.

Toxic Employee Clique Behavior Slides Into Bullying

While some forms of bullying are obvious, workplace bullying can be surprisingly hard to spot—especially when toxic employees resort to covert or manipulative behavior. While hostility to colleagues can take place within the workplace, cyberbullying can become pervasive before management even notice a blip on the radar. When toxic employee cliques demand conformity, both those within and outside of the group can start to avoid creative thinking, out of fear or reprisal. This waste of professional talent means less innovation within your business, and less work satisfaction for your employees.

Toxic Employee Cliques Thrive When Left Unaddressed

Failing to call out toxic employee behavior inevitably validates and emboldens the clique mindset, while further disempowering those outside of that unhealthy inner circle. Valuable and committed employees may well seek a better work environment elsewhere, while new recruits will be vulnerable to getting sucked into quickly-entrenched patterns of damaging behavior. As the performance of others begins to suffer, those within a toxic clique may respond competitively, showcasing their comparative strength and actively sabotaging co-workers.

Tacking Toxic Employee Cliques Head On

Many leaders and company owners don’t consider the value of corporate investigations until a major incident occurs. However, conducting a thorough investigation at the first point of suspicion—or even as a maintenance strategy—can allow organizations to nip toxic behavior in the bud before it begins to spread. Tactics such as breaking up cliques by asking employees to take on projects in different groups, or reworking—and re-training—codes of online and in-office conduct can be effective.
However, it is essential to understand the scale of the problem in order to resolve it effectively. The impartial assistance of an expert investigator can be invaluable in revealing an honest picture of the current corporate culture within your organization. Learn more about the Corporate Culture Audits and Corporate Investigations offered by Lauth Investigations. Not only will we help you uncover the true state of play, but we will aid you in drawing a road map towards the type of workplace culture that will allow all of your employees to shine.

Step inside the hidden world of corporate undercover investigators

Step inside the hidden world of corporate undercover investigators

corporate undercover investigation

How can a corporate undercover investigation improve your workplace?

When it comes to your business, you don’t know what you don’t know. 75% of employees have admitted to stealing from their employer at least once, and 35% will steal at least twice. That’s to say nothing of misappropriation funds, theft of industry secrets, and various forms of fraud. Many employers do their best to foster a positive corporate culture landscape in which they can thrive. When employers do not engage in the health and happiness of their employees, they can fully expect a corporate crisis to arise as a direct or indirect result. Issues such as internal theft, workers’ compensation fraud, harassment, and discrimination are just some of the corporate crises that arise from the lack of oversight on part of leadership. However, once these problems develop, it can be difficult to document them in an overt investigation. This is where a corporate undercover investigation can provide the crucial clarity needed to preserve a corporation’s mission.  

Today’s corporate landscape is fast-paced and constantly in flux, but leadership must find time and budget to have their daily operations properly assessed. In order to conduct a successful corporate undercover investigation, leadership and human resources must first know when it’s time to hire an investigator, and what criteria to use when hiring them. Many executives and CEOs may not wait for a corporate crisis to occur, but rather invest in a corporate undercover investigation for auditing purposes. The average time it takes for frauds to be discovered is 2 years, and when the fraud is allowed to continue for 5 years or more, the financial losses can surpass $2 million. It’s not hard to understand why employers and human resource departments alike may wish to be more proactive when it comes to protecting the business and its assets from the ruins of corporate crisis.

In a corporate undercover investigation, investigators will insert themselves into the workplace or worksite, typically in a capacity where they will be easily ignored, such as custodial staff, messengers, or even security. By inconspicuously infiltrating the workplace, investigators can observe daily operations without disrupting the true nature of the corporate culture. They can document the unseen factors in any corporate crisis. Whether it’s as small as thefts from office supply closet, or major theft of product from a warehouse, investigators can place covert surveillance cameras in strategic locations to capture the theft on tape. The best and most seasoned investigators will have the ability to seamlessly enter the workplace and develop a rapport with employees. This allows them to break down the unseen interpersonal factors in the staff, develop leads, and get corroboration regarding aspects of the case. Corporate undercover investigations can also be the ideal way to handle high-stakes corporate crises in which upper management is suspected to be involved. The more elevated the position, the more devastating the impact of that employees misconduct will be.  At the conclusion of the investigation, investigators prepare a complete report of all their findings and return it to the client in order to ensure they have the full scope of the problems within their organization.

If you have need of a corporate undercover investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100 for a free consultation on all of our corporate investigation services.  We are staffed by former military and law enforcement and carry a glowing A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Get the clarity your company needs today with Lauth. Call today or visit us online.  

Background Checks on Employees Protect Your Business

Background Checks on Employees Protect Your Business

Without comprehensive background checks on employees, employers don’t know what they don’t know.

What could you be missing as an employer with a business to protect? While it’s true that many employers opt for background checks on employees in their hiring process, not every employer exercises the proper amount of due-diligence in clearing a prospective employee to work. While different job descriptions will demand different levels of due-diligence, and each field will require a different focus within a person’s background, the bottom line is that some employers fail to go the extra mile when searching for the right person for the job.

Background checks for employees are a common-sense investment in the long-term health of your business. Background checks, when conducted thoroughly and properly, can provide invaluable insight into the candidate being considered for employment. Comprehensive background checks for employees reduce turnover, prevent losses, and protects the social ecosystem of the workplace from things like hostile work environments, decreases in productivity, and erosion of profits. When your business model places employees in close contact with customers in a transient capacity—as in employees regularly service different customers every day in close proximity, typically offsite away from official company property—those employers must go the extra mile in securing comprehensive background checks for employees

For a prime example of why companies must invest in comprehensive background checks for employees, look no further than the ride-share company, Uber. By the very nature of its design, ride-sharing is a system that can place both the drivers and their passengers at risk of physical harm. From the beginning of 2018 to the end of 2019, Uber had received more than 6,000 sexual assault complaints against their drivers. That number sheds a powerful light on a disturbing problem within the company’s hiring processes. “At the scale that Uber operates, we’re going to see both the good and the bad that happens in society because we’re operating so many trips every single day,” said Tony West, Uber’s chief legal officer. Because the nature of ride-sharing places customers in such close, private quarters with their drivers, the threshold for what the company considers fit to drive must be higher. Though Uber claims to thoroughly vet or otherwise screen each employee before they are hired, thee has been testimony from former Uber drivers who said that they began driving the same day they applied—not nearly enough time for a thorough background check into the driver’s history. This can leave Uber open to various forms of litigation on behalf of the victims, including fines and settlements that will erode profits.

Now imagine the company in question isn’t Uber, a multi-million-dollar corporation. The financial impact of even one lawsuit on behalf of a victim who was assaulted by an employee can be devastating to a small business. When your business model places employees in close personal quarters with customers, it’s imperative that you keep the safety of your customers and your business protected. Lauth investigators are there for our clients when they need comprehensive intelligence on a candidate’s background. We can identify candidates whose background should disqualify them from hire and prevent your business losses in the process. Through our licensure by the state, Lauth has access to nation-wide verified databases. These databases paired with our brand of due-diligence and integrity ensure that our clients are getting the intelligence they need to protect their business. If you need our background check services for your business, call 317-951-1100 for a free quote or visit us online at our website.

Protecting Employees from Abusive Clients

Protecting Employees from Abusive Clients

Corporate culture is more than protecting your employees from each other and the perils of internal daily operations. Employers must also be willing to protect employees from abusive clients.  

When employers think of corporate culture, their grasp of it may only extend to the internal operations of the business. It’s true that the factors that effect corporate culture exist primarily in the workplace itself. Corporate culture in general is the daily manifestation of how operations, policies, and enforcement of those policies effect both personnel, workflow, and the overall success of the company. Succinctly, corporate culture measures how easily employees are able to thrive in a particular work space.

There are plenty of internal issues that could cause corporate culture to decline, including unsafe practices, poorly-enforced policies, and problem employees with a repeated, pervasive pattern of misconduct in their position. One factor that most employers choose to gloss over or ignore completely is the factor of toxic clientele in the business. Many industries operate around the sacred creed of “the customer is always right.” No matter how dissatisfied or irate a customer or client becomes, it is the duty of the employee to rectify the situation in any way possible. Low to mid-level employees are often expected to take the brunt of the customer’s anger and accept responsibility for mistakes that might not be their fault. As long as the customer leaves the business appeased, the ends justify the means. However, this often has a lasting effect on employees that can affect the business in the long term.

Corporate culture moves in a cycle. As leadership with power, employers are control of how that cycle begins and ends. When employers take care of their employees—pay them a fair wage, give them a safe environment to do their jobs, and enforce policy in a way that seeks to improve the culture—employees feel valued and are more inclined to fully engage in their jobs. Full engagement from employees results in higher productivity with a higher quality of work. That benefit is then passed on to the customer or client, resulting in returns for the business. This pleases leadership, incentivizing them to further reward their employees—thus the cycle begins anew. Employers are the members of the corporation with the most power to disrupt this cycle.

In dealing with clients, the professional landscape is seeing a disappointing lack of employers willing to protect employees from abusive clients. After all, they should be courting their business, but there should be a hard line that clients can cross that give leadership the option to “fire” a client. As awareness of policy enforcement and how it effects the workplace continues to develop, more professionals are posting their experiences with toxic clients on social media. Houston Golden, one of the founders of a company known as BAMF, posted about his experience with a toxic client on his LinkedIn profile. “I fired my biggest client for calling my employee ‘retarded.’ She called me at 9:47 PM. “Houston, I don’t know if he’s under-paid, untrained, or just simply retarded. Do you have anyone that can replace him?” I was shocked…” Golden felt the client had crossed a line, and as a result, discontinued doing business with her. This is a measure that saves other employees from being exposed to deplorable behavior, and such action from an employer is a message to other employees that such behavior will not be tolerated, and the happiness of employees is more important than an abusive client.

When employees feel valued by leadership, they commit themselves to their duties in a meaningful way. The ripple effects of a workforce that feels valued will extend to the bottom line. Employees give 110% and the business sees a profitable return on their daily operations. This is what a healthy corporate culture looks like. If your corporation is having a problem with its corporate culture, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit services. Call 317-951-1100 or find us online at

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

Mergers & Acquisitions Need Private Investigators

A merger and acquisition investigation is often one of the first steps in prudent due-diligence when one corporation is looking to buy or merge with another.

Caveat emptor. Buyer beware. Consumers often find themselves thinking this when considering whether or not to test out a new product or replace a used one. After all, knowledge is power when it comes to your dollar. Now imagine that the product is not just a new shampoo or brand of cereal, but an entire corporation. Corporations who are flirting with the idea of a merger or acquisition regarding another company have a monumental task before them of performing due-diligence in fact-finding missions about these companies before they buy. If it is a publicly traded company, then a great deal of information about it will be accessible, but what about what’s not on paper? What about the staff, the internal operations, the unmitigated risk factors that could be inherited? A private investigator might be the perfect professional to conduct fact-finding in a merger and acquisition investigation.

Private investigators have the tools at their disposal to get the full picture when it comes to a prospective merger or acquisition. Private investigators have a similar investigative tool chest as law enforcement. It’s not uncommon for private investigators to be former law enforcement personnel. They are adept at moving within the environment unseen as observers, meticulously documenting what they see. They can get an unvarnished snapshot of how the business operates on a daily basis, how engaged the employees are, and how those things impact the daily output. They are adept at developing rapport with witnesses in order to get robust answers to pertinent questions regarding the investigation. Private investigators can also use databases similar to that of law enforcement to develop comprehensive background checks on the people in leadership of the company in order to determine within reason what is their risk of misconduct or negligence. Reviewing items like criminal history, address history, litigation history, and work history, they can profile the decision makers, document their history of decision-making, and how their relationship with their employees impacts the corporate culture of the company.

When it comes to a merger and acquisition investigation, a risk management firm might be the first entity that comes to mind. Private investigators and risk management firms often possess similar investigative methodologies in their experience with observing patterns of behavior and predict multiple outcomes within reason. Private investigators might have unexpected insight into mergers and acquisitions, because while the product, the brand, and the value are all critical factors in these corporate marriages, it is truly the human element that makes or breaks a business. Not unlike law enforcement, private investigators make their trade in analyzing and anticipating human behavior in order to develop leads for their casework. Their diverse experience in this arena allows them to conduct an evaluation of the business that goes beyond numbers and profit, but also how the dynamics between employees and the corporate culture will ultimately affect the parent company’s bottom line. If the private investigator finds that the company experiences repeated disruptions to operations due to inefficiency, apathy, or negligence, it further exacerbates the causation of these disruptions. The corporate culture declines and employees become more apathetic and disengaged. Without major overhaul to the corporate culture, the entity looking to buy might reconsider. When a company has a pervasive problem with employee misconduct of all kinds, including sexual harassment, discrimination, theft, and a high rate of turnover might be flagged as an unadvised risk by private investigators and risk assessment firms alike. The quality of corporate culture moves in a cycle based on how well it meets the needs of everyone involved in the workplace. When that corporate culture is consistently poor, these companies regularly open themselves up to costly turnover, employee theft, and legal action. If your company is involved in a merger or acquisition with another company, consider hiring Lauth Investigations International for your intelligence needs. Our team of private investigators is comprised of former military and law enforcement personnel who are ready to get to the truth for our clients. We’re adept in undercover and surveillance operations and carry an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau. Call today at 317-951-1100