Unproductive employees are a drain on your company morale as well as your bottom line. Nearly 29% of company time is unproductive – the equivalent of 33.5 days per worker per year. The estimated cost of this lack of productivity tops out at nearly $600 billion per year in the US (Proudfood Consulting).

While investing in time and attendance software ensures that you are paying employees for the time they put in, it doesn’t matter if the time they put in is unproductive. The cost of unproductive employees can have a detrimental effect on every aspect of your business. It is imperative that you identify those employees who are wasting company time and take measures to boost their productivity.

Effects of Unproductive Employees

Unproductive employees may take on the appearance of being busy – but all they are really completing is busywork.

They may spend too much time preparing for a sales call that they never end up making. They may waste time on the internet, on the phone, or chatting with other employees. When given a collaborative assignment, they fail to pull their own weight. They don’t make deadlines or complete their goals.

This behaviour has both immediate and long-lasting effects on your company.

  • Short-term effects: Poor daily sales performance, unmet deadlines, distraction of co-workers, stress for co-workers and team members.
  • Long-term effects: Poor long-term sales performance, failure of group projects , inter-office conflict, overall employee dissatisfaction, loss of good employees to your competitors.

Responsive and Preventative Measures

In order to turn around an office culture that is unproductive, you need to determine the root cause of this lack of productivity. 50% of U.S. executives reported that the number one barrier to productivity was inefficient management planning of work and organization structure. 43% also ranked poor leadership as their second greatest barrier to productivity (Proudfoot Consulting).

A worker that has one unproductive day – due to family issues, stress, etc – is not likely to become a problem for your business, unless that lack of productivity becomes their new norm. Employees may become persistently unproductive because they lack the training, goals, or job objectives that determine how much work they should get done in a given amount of time.

They may also lack the managerial oversight to hold them accountable for attaining their goals and objectives. The managerial duties here are similar to those of a project manager. According to Business.com, “You might only be
dealing with one other person but it’s still important to know who’s responsible for each task. It’s about communication as well. Who has what information?”

  • Make sure that your management structure is robust enough for managers to be able to monitor their workers effectively, give them needed support, and ensure that they are on top of their work.
  • Employees should have clearly-defined short-term and long-term goals that are time-based, have clear outcomes, and are closely monitored.
  • Have a process of accountability in place that both recognizes employees who meet their goals, and detects employees who do not achieve the desired work outcomes. This process should identify the causes of each individual case of unproductivity, work to help employees become more productive, outline the consequences of failure to live up to expectations.

“Presentism” – in which sick employees go in to work but are not capable of working to their usual standards – is another factor that can cause your business to be less productive overall. Review your company’s sick policy, and encourage employees to stay home when necessary.

Your business doesn’t have to pay for unproductive employees. Find out why your workers are unproductive. Take proactive measures to increase productivity, managerial oversight, and accountability within your office. When employees are held accountable for the work they do or do not get done, the majority will become more productive – and the rest can be replaced.

Posted by: Megan Webb-Morgan is a business blogger for B2B lead generation specialists, Resource Nation. Follow us Facebook, as well.

We, at Microsoft, provide ‘Talking Business’ to help entrepreneurs and business owners’ succeed. We believe in your ability to innovate and in the ability of technology to help, so to support ‘Talking Business’ we have many resources available for businesses like you. We have an informative newsletterblog posts by people in the industry, and a community looking to help small business succeed.

Follow us on twitter - @MicrosoftSB, or use the hashtag #TalkingBusiness to find out more information.