You might not want to accept it, but the reality is that employee- disinterest (lack of engagement as it is called these days), boredom, frustration and even resentment and disinterest can ‘occupy’ your employees’ minds and hold them back from reaching maximum productivity if any.
And let’s be honest… have you never yourself experienced moments where either you or your colleagues were watching the minute hand till it reached closing- time?
Employee Time Waste in Perspective
In 2014 Salary.com, polled 750 employees regarding wasted time at the workplace and found out that 89% of respondents’ waste time at work as follows:
- 31% waste roughly 30 minutes daily
- 31% waste roughly 1 hour daily
- 16% waste roughly 2 hours daily
- 6% waste roughly 3 hours daily
- 2% waste roughly 4 hours daily
- 2% waste 5 or more hours daily
That 89% was a significant increase from 69% of respondents wasting time in 2013.
In 2014, Careerbuilder (via Harris Poll) also commissioned a study on how people ‘waste’ time at work (the infographic can be found here: http://employer.careerbuilder.com/jobposter/resources/page.aspx?pagever=productivity2014&sc_cmp2=JP_Infographic_productivity2014&template=none) . What they found was that the polled employees were involved in doing the following:
- Talking on the cell phone and texting – 50%
- Gossiping – 42%
- On the Internet – 39%
- On Social media – 38%
- Taking snack breaks or smoke breaks – 27%
- Distracted by noisy co-workers – 24%
- In meetings – 23%
- On email – 23%
- Distracted by co-worker drop byes – 23%
- Distracted by co-worker calls on speaker phone – 10%
Equally interesting is that now – in 2017, 11% of the employees polled, say that half the working week is spent wasting time, whilst 72% believe that 30% of the working week goes to waste, according to the research conducted by Survey Sampling International. There are plenty of similar surveys- Harris Poll is doing such a survey at least once a year for employees in the US, the UK, Australia and other geographies.
Sometimes, when I visit a client, I see employees with their blue-tooth on, watching daytime telenovelas or football matched on their phone; once when I had to make a copy at the client’s site, the employee was photocopying an African Dance book….
How-to address Employee Time-Waste
Blaming your employees seems to be the easiest way to explain the time wasting. Minimizing Time Wasting starts with Leadership – Your Leadership! If you as a Leader / Manager do not set clear and measurable expectations and goals for the team to achieve, then your team will naturally set their own and usually they will waste as much time as they can. Unfortunately, most people will only do what they are asked to do.
So kindly -please- ask yourself, what are you really doing or not doing, that is allowing or encouraging them to waste time?
Here are some suggestions:
- Hire carefully and hire the right people.
Why? Because if you do not know the right candidate that you need to hire in terms of skills, abilities and cultural fit, you will get new employees who soon will be frustrated by lack of skills or undervalued if overqualified or bored if their workday is not planned properly and they have nothing to do; all these behaviours lead to time- wasting.
Btw, whenever a new employee is hired, make sure that each of your team members knows specifically what they are supposed to do and how and when they are supposed to do it.
We assume that you do already have clear company goals and directives in place.
- Set clear HR / Workplace policies and communicate them to all.
A constantly updated Employee Handbook should be readily available at all times with your workplace policies. Address issues like speakerphones, private usage of company property, etc. Introduce fair disciplinary actions for all possible violations.
Btw, any red-tape set of bureaucratic policies is by definition a time waster. That includes tedious expense reports of vacation applications, etc.
- Run Meetings Properly.
A badly run meeting, is both demotivational and boring and by default a clear waste of time for all.
Plan your meetings properly, have a clear agenda communicated in advance to all participants, and end your meetings at a set time- don’t let them drag unnecessarily because you have no time tracking/ management skills.
And…. Employees should have the right to decline meeting-invitations.
- Proper Training
If you assign tasks to an employee that s/he cannot perform, s/he will get eventually frustrated and start procrastinating. So, train them please.
On the other hand, don’t force your employees to attend irrelevant or worthless courses.
In 2017, it is ok for your employees to sue YouTube or a MOOC to learn new skills.
- IT, Social Media & Website Blocking
Should you have one? Do your employees need to access gambling sites during work hours? Online shopping ones? Should Facebook be blocked? Is your corporate spam-filter in order or do employees receive 20-60 spam emails per day? Are virus ‘dancing’ in your network platform? Develop a Social Media usage policy during work hours, keeping in mind that millennials and younger workers, a policy to remove personal devices or prohibit all access and texting during working hours is likely to be resented or simply ignored.
You might need a policy on using work time for personal e-mails, private calls and texts. As the line between work and personal-life home continues to blur, this ‘trend’ is on the rise.
- Too Much Email
Don’t fill up your employees’ email inboxes with unimportant mail. Also, don’t expect them to drop whatever they do they can respond to your email immediately. If really urgent, just walk and talk to them or call them.
Avoid email chains as to what to order for lunch or about the new fan usage policy.
- Manage your team properly + KPIs
As a manager -at any level, it is your responsibility to plan your employee’s day. Let me give you an example: at the software division of Boeing -since the late 90s- a software engineer has detailed instructions for every 2-hr work period; yes- that level of granularity (my husband has witnessed it).
Word of caution: focus on deliverables and do not micromanage the time of your employees.
Each Task should have solid instructions and ideally relevant and constantly monitored KPIs
Have clear KPIs for both your Team and all Team- Members and all processes that are covered by the functional area(s) of your team(s).
Finally, be visible as a manager- do not manage by assigning tasks via email. You have to be on the office /store floor!
- Conditions of the Work Environment
A work environment that is dirty, or messy or too hot or too noisy or poorly lit or even not comfortable to sit in, it’s a major productivity killer. All these will drive your employees- despite all possible good will, to immense amounts of lack of concentration and time waste.
- Recognition and Rewards Management.
Give rewards – show to your employees that they are valued!
Motivate them to be less wasteful with their work time by giving them recognition and extra incentives. A simple set of movie- tickets for someone’s family might boost their morale and keep them going for a long time.
Part of recognition is also listening to your employees; this usually results in less wasted effort, reduced costs, and even zero employee turnover.
- Time Off: Daily Short Breaks & Vacations
Implement several short-breaks during the work-day. Most ergonomic advice suggest a 5- minute break every hour because the majority of people can only focus for one hour or less at a time.
Also, when applicable, force employees to take their vacation days (not a good idea to transfer them to next year etc.) to avoid work- burnout. If applicable too, you might want to consider offering an employee flexitime, even temporarily.
I trust that by now, you are aware that your employees/ team- members might be wasting a lot of time at the workplace. Keep in mind, that lack of personal accountability ‘for the standard of the employee’s work- contribution’ might be another common reason for reduced workplace productivity.
And now, you have some information on how to address it. If your employees have always clear understanding of how their work adds value to your organisation, if they like their work and their work environment, if they are given clear responsibilities and are held accountable, if they receive regular feedback and communication on future business strategy, if they if they feel really valued, then they will be having pride in their job and self-select not to time waste.
Thank you and Good Luck,
About the Author: Irene Gloria Addison is the owner of HIREghana [Human Intelligence Recruitment], a Leader Ghanaian Recruitment Agency and also a HRM & Organizational Development Consultancy, based in Accra. Irene welcomes your feedback/ comments/ remarks/ suggestions via your email messageto Press@HIREgh.com
Our website is http://www.hiregh.com/
© 2017 Irene Gloria Addison and © 2017 Human Intelligence Recruitment
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