The ‘Bad Apple’ Syndrome

Supriya Sharma
2 min readAug 13, 2020


How does it affect your organisational culture?

Picture by Michal Hlavac on

‘A bad apple can spoil the whole bunch.’

On an average, we hit on this old adage 15 times a year, that’s what was concluded from a short language study that I conducted last year at the university. While you don’t regularly deal with barrel-sized quantities of fruit, in this case, context is the organisational culture, as to how one misfit can have a tremendously poisonous effect in your company.

The cost of keeping an ineffectual hire in your organisation is high, not only in monetary terms due to underperformance, but also it toxifies the attitude and morale of other team members. This weakest-link in the chain can quickly turn a positive workplace into one that is totally divisive and unproductive.

For example, if your organisation plays in the technology sector where each employee represents roughly $625,500 in annual topline revenue. Assuming a bad hire is sub-grouped with 8 others, their influence could span roughly $5 million per year. At 50% efficiency, this could translate to $2.5 million in annual revenue lost, just because of the wildfire effect of retaining an inappropriate member in the team.

In addition to the direct costs affecting co-workers’ performance and revenue in the bargain, there are additional ‘weak performer’ soft costs that demand consideration:

  • Inefficient utilisation of training resources
  • Zero return on invested time
  • Continual mistakes
  • Lost credibility
  • Customer loss

Addressing this issue can be hellish but keeping in view the obliterative consequences it has on the culture of the organisation, calls for a deeper thought and action during the hiring process as the best corrective and preventative measure that can be taken is to hire the best fit and implement an effective onboarding and training process right from the start.



Supriya Sharma

♥️ — Proud Daughter, Charmed Sister, Juliet sans Romeo; 🧠 — CX Alchemist, Business Strategist, Leadership Evangelist, Author, Investor