TAFEP Hero 2023 Oct
What makes a nightmare coworker?

What makes a nightmare coworker?


Someone who knows everything best, steals office supplies, doesn't clean up, or acts like a manager when the real one isn't around.

Although what constitutes a terrible coworker is of course subjective, a survey by ResumeLab analysed over 1,000 workers’ personality traits and behaviours to find out just how prevalent terrible colleagues are.

The research showed half (50%) of people had three-four terrible coworkers, with a third (33%) indicating those termed 'terrible coworkers' were getting on people's nerves once a week. Meanwhile, the vast majority (89%) of people said they went out of their way to avoid these people at the office.


The report also dissected attitudes and the experience of a terrible coworker by experience in the workplace. People with 11+ years of experience were least likely to say they have terrible coworkers (68%), while the group with the lousiest team members seems to be those with 6–10 years of experience, where 87% reported having terrible coworkers. However, experienced coworkers are also more likely to be considered terrible coworkers compared to people new to the labour market, 63% vs. 30%, said the survey.

Broken down by generations, two in five (43%) of the 1,000 Americans surveyed rated Millennials as the most irritating coworkers, followed by Generation X (34%), and then Gen Z and Baby Boomers with 18% and 5% respectively. Some may say this data is unsurprising and representative of current demographics, as Millennials now make up the bulk of the workforce, with Baby Boomers now retiring and Gen Z just entering the job market.

The research showed, that men 83% reported having more terrible colleagues than women, 77%. Interestingly men were also reported to be a little more annoying than women, 41% compared to 39%, respectively. A fifth of respondents (20%) indicated gender makes no difference.

In terms of company sizes, companies with between 51–200 employees reported the highest proportion of annoying coworkers (83%), while only 73% of respondents working for larger companies with more than 500 employees admit to having terrible coworkers. 

What else did the survey show? Here are some data points:

  • 22% need to calm their nerves every day.
  • 82% confronted coworkers about their terrible personality traits, while 84% discussed terrible workplace behaviours with their colleagues.
  • 1% are lucky to have coworkers who annoy them only a few times a year.
  • 41% of people said coworkers were less annoying in a remote work setting.
  • 83% admit that coworkers' terrible behaviours negatively affect their work. 
  • 72% of respondents testified that their coworkers' terrible behaviours made them want to quit their job.

In-line photos / ResumeLab
Lead image / Shutterstock

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