Why Your Employees Probably Do Nothing All Day (and how to fix it)

July 21, 2014 - 4 minute read - Posted by

At some point or another you’ve probably worked alongside an employee who seems to do nothing all day.

You know the type I am referring to? They are often the first to take advantage of sick days, usually always late to the office, and are the first to leave on a Friday afternoon. In other words they do just enough stay employed but never really grow professionally or contribute like some of the others.

It’s not so much that they are impacting productivity, but there is something else missing. There is no passion, no drive, and no willingness to jump into anything.

Your first reaction may be reprimand or remove the culprit. No one wants a deadbeat employee right? True, but if your employees are doing nothing because they are disengaged, it might not be too late. Regardless, the problem isn’t going away on its own.

The good news is that if you can determine why your employee has checked-out, you have a better chance at fixing things before it’s too late.

Here are some of the biggest culprits:

They don’t know what they should be working on

If tasks aren’t properly defined or communicated, don’t expect employees to automatically take initiative. Employees with clearly defined tasks and responsibilities are much more likely to be engaged with their work than those without role clarity. Ensure you have complete visibility to your team’s tasks and responsibilities. Use this as a starting point for frequent check-ins and discussions. Also, create goals for each employee and team. The more employees understand their tasks and the related impact, the easier it is to achieve these goals.

They don’t have job satisfaction

According to a Gallup poll conducted last year, only 29% of American employees are engaged in their work. This means over 70% percent of workers are disengaged. Is it any wonder employees are slacking? They’re miserable! But the good news is that job happiness isn’t just about money anymore. Employees are now looking for other things: like recognition, culture, and growth opportunities. So don’t be afraid to ask your team what they value, and what motivates them. The solution might be easier than you think. But again, it comes down to constantly checking in and anticipating problems before they escalate.

They can get away with doing nothing

No one wants a micromanager, but that doesn’t mean employees don’t need accountability. Flattened hierarchal structures like holocracy are gaining a lot of attention, but it’s only going to work if tasks are clearly defined and employees are held accountable.  If done right employees can take full responsibility for their own work without the feeling of management breathing down their neck. Help them achieve this with constant support, feedback, and learning opportunities. Invest in a tool that allows you complete visibility over what your employees are working on.

They don’t know how their work contributes to the big picture

You know that ‘plan’ that you and the executive secretly met about? The one that you didn’t share with anyone, let alone your team members? Well hoarding away corporate knowledge isn’t helping your team understand the company vision. Yes, not ALL information needs to be shared, but great leadership begins with complete transparency. At the very least show employees how their work matters to each other and the overall vision. It may feel odd and intimidating at first, but it really helps people understand what everyone else is working on.

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