Saw the following article on the "no Ass#%e rule" as a formal policy at an American company - and it got me thinking - why do companies keep problematic, abrupt, explosive, jerk employees around? I thought back to my own experiences - those employees I have known who remained with companies even though they fit the definition.
They are the Chemical Weapons of corporate America.
Remember chemical weapons in the cold war? When stockpiles of conventional weapons/nuclear arms/etc., weren't enough, even civilized countries like the U.S. developed weapons using chemical agents like Sarin Gas. We're now disposing of these in places like Anniston, AL (Side note - I once hired a PR guy who's prior gig was to do PR to the local community regarding the benefits of having a chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston. Needless to say, doing PR for a cable company didn't sound so bad compared to that).
Why did countries like the U.S. develop these weapons? The same reason that corporate America tolerates problematic employees who fit the definition. Corporate America thinks they need these employees "just in case".
Like chemical weapons, corporate America keeps problematic employees (or in simpler terms, jerks/ass$#$es) for a very specific reason. The employee usually has a very specific skill set that the management team in question values. For this reason, all the negative behavior and impact is tolerated.
Many times, the jerk employee isn't even contributing day to day. But if you need the skills in question? Nice to know they are there. Just like the stockpiles of Sarin Gas during the cold war, but the toxic effects happen daily instead of when delivered in a weapon payload.
The "no Ass#%e rule" is a great idea, but won't spread virally because it is hard to quantify. It's hard to quantify what constitutes a jerk, and much harder to quantify the bottom effect of removing jerks from the workforce.
Keep working on the "value of removing jerks" metric. If legit, you could make a lot of money in the HR space.