5 Reasons it’s YOUR Fault Employees Waste Time

To paraphrase the comedian Louis CK, there are two types of people in this world: people who say they waste time at work and dirty liars. According to Salary.com, 9 in 10 employees admit to goofing off during work hours, with over a quarter confessing they do so for more than two hours each day.

Cue horror from bosses up and down the country, as they visualise company dollars being pocketed by unscrupulous employees spending their workdays browsing Facebook or bidding for items on eBay.

Bad luck bosses; the news gets worse. If all your employees are consistently slacking off, it’s almost certainly your own fault. Here’s why:

1. You prioritise presenteeism over productivity

Presenteeism – where employees are valued solely by how much time they physically spend in the office – is a widespread phenomenon amongst companies. Consequently, the average UK employee now works an extra seven and a half hours of unpaid overtime every week.

Take a peek at the nation’s productivity, however, and it becomes clear that all this extra work is worse than useless: the UK’s productivity gap with the rest of the G7 (a group of rich democracies) is currently the worse it’s been since records began.

It has long been known to scientists, and long ignored by employers, that neither the human brain nor the human body is capable of sustaining consistent, high-quality output for eight to ten hours every day.

Managers who promote presenteeism, therefore, incentivise employees to spend hours twiddling their thumbs. In an extra twist, employees who work shorter hours produce more than their desk-squatting peers.

2. You treat all workdays the same

In the Salary.com survey, employees were asked when during the week they wasted the most time. 44% of respondents picked the same time slot. Can you guess what it was?

If you knew the answer was “Friday afternoon” but don’t give your employees an early home-time on that day, you should look into the ‘Pareto Principle’ (also called the 80-20 rule). Synopsis: focus on the most valuable aspects of a business for the greatest payoffs.

Good bosses know the importance of boosting staff morale; it’s a key factor in an employee’s overall productivity. Starting the weekend early is a great way to do this at little to no cost to your business (because employees aren’t working well then anyway).

3. You haven’t established a break culture

When asked why they waste time at work, over half of the surveyed workers cited the need to take occasional breaks to stay productive. If you think that sounds reasonable, it’s because it is. Taking frequent short breaks is the only way we can maintain our focus, ability and interest in a task.

Establishing a break culture requires more than not firing people for making a cup of coffee, however. A designated, comfortable break room, provided drinks and snacks, and managers who lead by example are all important.

Your employees will take breaks regardless. Why not encourage them to take the sort of breaks that will fully reinvigorate and energize them, such as taking a walk outside or having a power nap?

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