Since time wastage can lead to plummeting productivity levels in the workplace, what can HR do to prevent this without resorting to drastic measures?
To help HR combat this issue, Katherine Erdel, senior associate of the Labour and Employment Practice Group at Bingham Greenebaum Doll, wrote an article on Lexology giving three tips on how to proactive tackle time wastage in the workplace.
“Surveys have shown that as many as 70 per cent of employees admit to wasting time at work on a daily basis. The amount of time wasted ranges from 30 minutes to several hours…,” she wrote.
She went on to say that employees generally waste time because they are not challenged enough, there is no incentive to work harder or they are simply bored.
Thus, she said, it is not the allure of checking up on their Facebook friends or finding the latest football scores that draws staff away from their work – it is that the job itself is missing something crucial.
Rather than eliminating technology altogether or spying on employees’ online behaviour however, Erdel recommends the following three techniques instead.
1) Be as clear as possible
“Set clear, big-picture expectations so that every employee knows the company’s vision and goals,” she wrote.
Make each staff member aware of how they can assist in reaching the relevant corporate goals through performance evaluations and informal feedback on their work, she added.
2) Pinpoint temptation
“Identify, in advance, times when employees may have an increased temptation to waste time. Then, find ways to curb the temptation,” Erdel wrote.
For instance, if there is a big sporting event coming up, employers can bring a TV or two into the break room so staff can catch up on the score at scheduled moments throughout the day.
“Turn the potential for time-wasting into an opportunity for employees to socialise and bond over their common passion,” she advised.
3) Reward high productivity
Rewarding and recognising employees who consistently maintain or increase their productivity levels through benefits such as annual performance bonuses is a positive move; however Erdel suggests going a step further.
“Providing more periodic bonuses may help to remind employees that their performance is being considered regularly and that good work does not go unnoticed,” she wrote.
There are definitely limits as to what HR can do to improve employee productivity especially for those with chronic time wastage problems. In these cases, counselling, discipline and even termination may be required. However, Erdel suggests only using these in extreme cases.
“Before taking those steps, consider what proactive measures you may be able to take to get the job done without losing otherwise solid employees.”