Business Law & Compliance

British workers reveal the nightmare colleagues to work with

5 min read

22 November 2016

Former deputy editor

If you’re having trouble sleeping, turn back now – when it comes to nightmare colleagues, we’ve got commentary on employees from hell who will give you sleepless nights.

How do you define nightmare colleagues? Perhaps it’s someone who has a habit of whistling or singing. Maybe it’s the incessant tapping on their desk that drives you mad.

No to belittle your plight, but we’ve seen the true face of nightmare colleagues, and if the above is what you’re worried about – you really have nothing to fear.

Indeed, health & safety law consultancy has surveyed British workers to unearth the worst possible nightmare colleagues that have been discovered in the workplace.

Turns out, everything from extended toilet breaks to bare-knuckle brawling is all in a day’s work for these HR horrors.

And with HR and legalities in mind, the law firm was keen to highlight the difference between someone being quirky and a nightmare colleague – for misunderstanding the difference could leave employers on the wrong end of a lawsuit. spokesperson, Mark Hall, said: “There’s a fine line between employees who are a little bit ‘funny’ and those who make everybody else’s daily lives a nightmare.

“And because it seems that we’re living in a ‘kid glove’ culture, bosses are terrified of getting disciplinary procedures wrong and paying the price.”

Continue on the next page for the six worst nightmare colleagues discovered across the UK and see how your workplace dilemmas compare.

According to, the worst nightmare colleague scenarios are:

(1) Sanjay, London

“One guy breaks the toilet at least once a week. We’ve no idea how he did it, but he’d come walking out of the lav clutching a smashed toilet seat. He’s costing us a fortune, and it’s not funny any more.”

(2) Nicola, Nottingham

“We work in a biggish office, and we like to think we’re a happy team. But everything came tumbling down because of one person who wouldn’t stop stealing from the fridge. HR literally took months to deal with it, and by then we were virtually at war. Terrible days, we lost some great people who quit in disgust.”

(3) Graham, Edinburgh

“The interview should have been a clue, because he asked us how many breaks he was allowed every day. We didn’t realise he was expecting three hours on the toilet ringing his bookie every day. He’s phoning in his bets in his own time now.”

(4) Alison, Cardiff

“Every now and again we still catch a whiff of her, even though she got the boot months ago. We didn’t call her BO Billie for nothing, you know. You could smell her coming from the other end of the warehouse.”

(5) Ashraf, Liverpool

“We don’t mind our employees having another job. What I did object to was him dropping tools and running off to do his taxi job on my company time. The final straw was when he crashed his BMW into one of our delivery vans in the car park. Gross misconduct, but we should have sacked him months before.”

(6) Richard, Norwich

“Let me tell you about Fighty Dave. He liked fighting, and most of the time with his own workmates. He only lasted two weeks with us, and that was about two weeks too long. It was like Fight Club round here – nobody’s ever forgotten Fighty Dave.”

How do these compare to what’s taking place in your workforce?’s Hall continued to note that the challenge for businesses is how to manage the issues caused by nightmare colleagues.

“It’s not always about the nuclear option of sacking somebody – it can also be about addressing problem staff and attempting to change their behaviour and preserve workplace harmony,” he said.

Hall noted that not only can morale suffer, but profit margins can also be damaged.

“A firm word with the workplace toilet wrecker may be enough for him to stop whatever it is he does to toilets,” says Hall, “But dealing with a workplace thief quickly and efficiently is a different kettle of fish altogether.”

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