We’re pretty certain that every manager has encountered a problem when their employees’ salary is decent, their office is cozy, their working conditions are good, yet the results of these very subordinates’ work are not satisfactory. Such state of affairs often leads to an obvious reaction from supervisors who think that if their employees don’t understand incentives (so-called carrots) then they’ll get punished financially (sticks).
But does such an approach actually yield any positive results? Evidence shows that it does not – being denied a bonus makes people work even less efficiently. To fix the problem, managers must begin not by taking punitive measures, but by answering the core question, “Why do my employees perform poorly?” And that’s the topic of our today’s conversation.
How big of a problem is it, anyway?
Let’s just say that it’s big. Based on recent data from GoRemotely (2021), an average employee works for a total of less than three hours a day! To elaborate, a person takes breaks from work about 7 times every hour and each break lasts roughly 5 minutes. During a workday, such “idle” time adds up to 4 hours or more – and that’s the time your employees are being paid for with company’s money.
Atlassian came to similar conclusions. According to their statistics, the average employee takes breaks from work 56 times a day. The final productivity in such cases is no higher than 60%, and that’s not enough to achieve good results.
Why do employees slack off in the office?
According to the same studies we’ve mentioned, there are 6 main reasons why people lose focus at work. It seems reasonable to elaborate on each of them.
Let’s start with the most obvious one. An employee may be not doing their assigned tasks simply because they get distracted. Udemy published an interesting report, which found that up to 70% of professionals admit to being constantly distracted during the workday by:
- their colleagues and office noise;
- emails, calls and meetings;
- private matters, such as social media (36% of millennials indicated that they can spend more than 2 hours per day on their smartphones).
We can suggest several possible solutions to the problem. The first one is to improve discipline and organize your workplace. You should try to assign workspaces to your employees in such a way that everyone would feel like actually doing their job rather than talking to each other. Make sure there are no unnecessary sources of noise (you can do it by, for example, ensuring that everyone listens to music only through headphones). And so on.
The second point to note is this – reduce to the bare minimum the amount of reports and paperwork that aren’t directly related to the employees’ responsibilities. For example, instead of having them fill out daily reports on the work they’ve done, you can use Kickidler employee monitoring software that gathers such data automatically and requires no human attention or time. Plus, such information will be more accurate and objective than an employee's own story on “how they spent their day.”
Constant task juggling
Multitasking is good under pressure when you can’t perform your tasks without it, but when it happens constantly, it ends up being rather harmful. Frequent switching between tasks becomes a great stress for the human brain. It can reduce productivity by 30-40%. The more often your employees have to jump between projects, the worse they feel – eventually you’ll notice they’ve stopped working simply because they’re in need of a break.
Proper workday scheduling and workload distribution are the obvious solution. Ideally, your subordinates should handle no more than one global and complex task, no more than three moderately complex issues, and no more than five easy tasks per day. Moreover, the difficult work should be done first, preferably without any distractions.
Teamwork is the basis of everything, but only when the team is actually selected properly. Statistically, 46% of professionals find it more difficult to perform their duties in a team compared to when they work on their own. One reason for that could be different work styles that collide and slow down the whole process.
Pay close attention to the way you build your teams and monitor their performance. Team reports available in Kickidler will help you with that. You can monitor productivity metrics and results for the whole team and then compare them to the data on specific team members. If you see someone falling behind, they may simply not be fitting well in their team.
More than 70% of specialists work under stress, and it’s usually related either directly to the work process or to the finances. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to completely eliminate the stress factor (since there will always be personal distress that has nothing to do with work), but you can certainly reduce it significantly.
Try to help your team focus on their work – assign them interesting tasks and pay attention to their levels of motivation. Be sure to keep an eye on your subordinates’ productivity dynamics as well. If an excellent employee is sluggish, something may have happened to them. Sometimes the best solution might be a frank question regarding their problems. People appreciate a more personalized attitude and attention from their managers.
Lack of work-life balance
Let's look at a few numbers first:
- U.S. companies lose an average of $1967 per employee annually because workers don’t get enough sleep;
- Proper nutrition can increase productivity by 25%;
- 65% of employees claim that a vacation dramatically increases their productivity.
In short, being overworked obviously leads to severe fatigue and has a detrimental effect on overall performance of your employees. Many people wake up at 6-7 a.m. in order to get to work on time and don’t get home until 8-9 p.m. That’s also part of the reason why employees lack motivation. They simply stop experiencing the joy of life and have no idea what they are working for.
Even at home these specialists can’t relax. They often have to answer emails or texts even during their free time, purely because they are afraid of what would happen if they ignore something work-related. They are in the constant state of anxiety and stress, which ends in them experiencing burnout and starting to slack off at work.
To deal with this situation, you should think about the ways you can improve the working conditions of your employees. Don’t contact them during their off-hours without an urgent need or consider transferring people who live far from work to remote mode, which will save them hours of commuting.
Lack of recognition
It’s human nature to strive for recognition from others. Deep inside your employees want to be praised for the work they do and appreciated for their efforts. And if this praise is not there, their motivation decreases. Indifference of colleagues and superiors devalues the specialists’ work and kills their desire to perform their duties well.
The solution to this problem is simple – don’t forget to praise your employees for their successes. Often it’s enough to unbiasedly monitor their performance in Kickidler and then comment on their achievements in your conversations with them. That way you’ll see that the mood in your team will become more positive. And with that increased productivity will come as well.
If your employees are slacking off in the office, in most cases there are some objective reasons for that. And you can certainly control it. Yes, there are times when a person is just negligent or they’re experiencing some difficulties outside your area of responsibility, but oftentimes the situation is entirely within your control. Keep a close eye on your subordinates’ performance, notice negative dynamics and react to them promptly. Then there will definitely be no work-related problems. And Kickidler screen monitoring software will certainly help you with that!
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