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How Much Time Could Employees Be Wasting at Work?

It probably comes as no surprise that the majority of employees are not spending the entirety of their workdays being productive without even amoment break. However, the actual numbers related to wasting time at work may surprise you. According to one study, nearly two thirds of workers admit to wasting at least some time at work. Though even chronic time wasters can still generally be relied on to finish things on time and help out in a pinch, many employees as well as employers do not understand the true price of time wasted at work.

The Cost of Wasted Time

Snatching 30 minutes here or there to scroll through social media at work may not seem like a huge problem. In fact, practically everyone has probably done it once or twice during a slow period. However, employees who are consistently wasting time every day can eventually hurt the company’s bottom line. This infographic outlines how much an employee who does even one time-wasting activity a day can ultimately cost the company, which can be thousands of dollars per year. Multiply that by every employee in the office, and you can begin to see what wasted time really costs you.

How Employees Waste Time

You may think that the only way employees waste time is by surfing the Internet or social media while on the clock. While this is still the most common method of wasting time according to most employees, many also identified factors that are out of their control. Useless meetings where nothing is accomplished ranked high on the list of ways time is wasted, as did answering non-essential email. Socializing with coworkers is another way employees frequently waste time, and it is a particularly insidious one as a single chatty worker can disrupt and distract everyone trying to get tasks done around them.

Discouraging Time Wasting Behaviors

Employees have little motivation to change on their own, especially if they feel that they are doing overall good work. It is up to the employer to discourage time-wasting behaviors in the work place. One way to do this is to identify time wasters that are under the control of the management and work to change them. In addition to useless meetings and email, employees also identified inefficient coworkers, busy work, and even their boss as reasons time was wasted. Think about ways to streamline the way work is done – get a consultant if you need to – and watch your employees begin to work more efficiently.

Other ways to discourage time wasting in the workplace include:

  • Provide a clear outline of what you expect from employees
  • Hire workers who are a good fit for the culture of the office
  • Communicate your performance expectations clearly
  • Schedule regular performance evaluations so employees know where they stand

Strategies that Don’t Work

On the other hand, there are many strategies that employers use that have a proven track record of not being particularly effective in curbing time wasting. These include severely restricting how employees are allowed to use their time or monitoring the way they spend their time exceptionally closely. Both of these approaches make employees feel stressed and lower morale in the workplace. Rather than raise productivity, they may actually hurt it as unhappy employees who feel trapped look for ways to rebel. In general, employees with clear goals will happily work towards them without wasting time as long as they feel they are being treated fairly

Wasting time at work also wastes money. It’s important to develop strategies in the workplace that minimize the amount of time employees waste and maximize the time they dedicate to sustained work.

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