Are Your Employees Time Wasters?

Time is money, and, as Benjamin Franklin once said, “Lost time is never found again.” As a manager, you show your leadership by managing your own time while sometimes also helping your employees learn to manage theirs.

Where does the time go?

In a Robert Half Management Resources survey, chief financial officers polled said the biggest time wasters were employees who conducted personal activities while on the clock. Here are some of the specific findings:

  • Nearly a third (32 percent) of the CFOs reported non-business use of the Internet, including social media, as the activity wasting the most time.

  • Twenty-seven percent cited employees chatting with each other about topics not related to work.

  • Employees making personal phone calls were the most problematic time wasters for 20 percent of those who responded.

Separating work time and personal time

When you combine personal Internet usage and phone calls, more than half of time wasted during the workday is related to personal business. The most effective way to reduce the impact of those time wasters on your business is to teach your team how to separate personal time from work time.

If your employees wish to socialize with one another beyond brief chitchat, encourage them to do so during scheduled coffee and lunch breaks. Taking those breaks in a non-work area, such as a lounge or meeting room, can help differentiate between work time and social time.

Limiting personal calls at work can difficult because some calls are important. An employee with a sick child, for example, can’t be expected to ignore a personal call. Discuss the situation with your team members if personal calls become a problem. Let your employees know you expect them to keep those calls brief and avoid distracting other employees.

You may want to ask your employees to step out of the office, into an empty meeting room or another area where no one is working, if they must make or take a personal call. This not only prevents them from distracting others but also makes them aware that they aren’t working anymore.

Find out why

If time wasters aren’t related to personal business, talk with your employees one-on-one to determine the reason for them.

Do you feel they may be slacking on company time as a subconscious protest against a heavy or high-stress workload? See what you can do to redistribute tasks and alleviate the strain. 

Is your sense is that they’re bored and playing online games at their desks because they believe they’ve completed all their tasks or because the duties are so mundane they’ve lost their motivation? Give them more interesting projects to boost their productivity.

Time wasters eat away at your team’s productivity. Encourage good time management at work by setting an example of it yourself, as well as teaching your team how to keep personal affairs from taking over their work life.

Share your tips for time management and productivity in the comments section below.