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Imagine walking into your office and finding a bundle of untended tasks; what would you do?
My guess: if you’re the empathetic boss, who understands that workers are humans, after all, you probably will simply ask that your workers get to work. However, if you’re the no-nonsense boss, you probably will scold them and even threaten them with a sack.
Whichever you are, at that moment, your employees will definitely get to work and get the tasks done.
But what if the same thing keeps repeating itself? What if you always find your employees slacking off anytime you’re away from the office? What can you do to change the narrative and make them as productive as you’d like?
Find out below.
How to stop your employees from slacking off
A research conducted by Independent in the UK revealed that the average worker slacks off for up to 50 minutes a day – or more than five hours a week.
As you can see, it’s not a new thing for employees to slack off. It happens almost everywhere. However, you can correct things at your workplace by following these tips.
- Point it out (but back it up with facts and data)
- Have a physical and digital reminder of pending tasks
- Avoid scolding employees in public
- Offer encouragement
- Sit back and watch
Point it out (but back your claims with facts)
The first thing to do is to make the employee realize you know they’re slacking off. You can say it like, “Hey, Joe, I think you’ve been slacking off lately.”
Expectedly, he might disagree with you. When he does, bring out the numbers to back up your claim. For example, let’s say he completes certain tasks in two hours before, but now he takes three. Show him the discrepancies in his efficiency rate.
People tend to buckle up when they know you’ve cornered them with facts.
Check-in on them
Taking tactical toilet breaks, stalling meetings, wasting time on simple tasks; all these are common signs you’ll see when an employee is slacking.
To stop your employees from using these subtle means to evade tasks, check in on them every time.
Say you walk into the room unannounced and find someone not on their desk; it’s clear they owe you an explanation when they return. If you hadn’t checked in, you wouldn’t have known. And now that you know, you can bet the employee will be scared of repeating the same thing next time.
Have a physical and digital reminder of pending tasks
Sometimes, employees slack off at work when they feel like they still have plenty of time or when they don’t feel challenged by the work anymore. They’re so relaxed to work.
The best way to keep them on their toes is to have a physical and digital reminder of the tasks at hand in such scenarios. For example, hanging a detailed flowchart of how the day’s tasks will go on the office’s walls can help employees see how much they still need to cover for the day.
Humans tend to slow down when there are no set targets to chase. In order to get your employees off their butts and constantly active, have short and long-term targets.
Don’t let them treat each week’s work like the usual. Instead, set a unique target for each week. This can be as simple as challenging workers to complete tasks faster than usual or as serious as adding new tasks to their duties.
In any case, make sure you explain in detail what the day’s or week’s goals are. You can even use a flowchart maker like Zen flowchart to draw out the week’s to-do list. That way, you’ll communicate your points effectively.
Do you think someone is slacking off because they have less to do? If so, commit more tasks in their hands.
People tend to get more serious when more is expected of them. Of course, you don’t want to overburden your workers. Else, their productivity level will drop.
However, you want to ensure everyone’s working to the best of their abilities. So, if you notice someone’s slacking off, think of other ways to make them useful.
It’s an office space, remember? There’s always plenty to do.
Hold workers accountable
A worker is less likely to slack off if he knows the success or actualization of a task hinges on him. That’s just basic human nature.
Once you notice an employee is constantly slacking off or exhibiting signs of laziness, call them to your office and commit some projects into their hands. You’ll see that he/she will buckle up afterward.
In his mind, he knows he will be held accountable if anything goes wrong. So, he will do everything possible to ensure nothing goes wrong.
Avoid scolding employees in public
When you find an employee slacking off – maybe spending too much on toilet breaks or constantly pressing their phone – you should refrain from scolding them in public. This could hurt their feelings.
Remember, as much as you’re trying to solve a problem; you don’t want to end up creating another.
Instead, invite the worker into your office and speak to them. Then, you can make them understand why their attitude will no longer be tolerated.
Finally, offer some words of encouragement. Sometimes, all it takes to get someone to work harder is a simple, heartfelt conversation.
Make them realize they won’t be fired for something so trivial. But that they need to raise their level to stay in the job.
Sit back and watch
After all is said and done, sit back and watch what happens next. Normally, an employee committed to the cause will make necessary adjustments to get back on track. But one that doesn’t have a vested interest in the company’s goals may remain nonchalant.
In the case of the latter, I bet you know what to do.
It’s almost rare to find employees slacking off for fun. Most times, it’s linked to fatigue, lack of motivation, and other factors. If you have an employee who’s guilty of slacking off on duty, talk to them and get their mind back in the game. You owe it to yourself to at least try.