Whether your employees are paid on salary or by the hour, time is money in the business world. If your employees are wasting time, it’s having a direct impact on your bottom line.
How to Encourage Better Use of Company Time
Slacking off at work is practically a national pastime. We all do it on occasion, but exactly how much time are your employees wasting? In a self-reported American Time Use Survey, a group of economists found that workers spend an average of 34 minutes per day not working.
If your employees are average, you’re paying each one to slack off for more than 2.5 hours per week, or 130 hours per year. If you’re tracking the numbers at home, that’s more than three full weeks of salary per employee per year.
Thankfully, there’s something you can do about it. Try implementing a few of these suggestions and see how much more efficient it makes your team:
1. Set Clear Expectations (and Follow Through)
Any adult should have a pretty good idea of what’s expected at work: Company time is for getting work done, not stalking old high school flames on Facebook. However, sometimes people get too comfortable in their jobs and slacking off becomes second nature.
Every so often, it’s a smart idea to clearly outline your expectations for your employees. Explain what they should be doing and encourage them to approach you if they’re ever unsure of what they’re supposed to be doing. Once you’ve set the clear expectation that employees aren’t to be wasting time, it’s not as easy for them to justify their bad behaviors. (On a related note, make sure you follow through. If you set an expectation that wasted company time won’t be tolerated, discipline those who don’t meet your standard.)
2. Supply Employees With the Right Tools
Sometimes wasting time doesn’t involve Facebook, gossiping at the water cooler, or taking excessive lunch breaks. In many cases, employees are wasting time by performing work tasks inefficiently. It’s up to you to provide them with the tools they need to streamline those tasks and save time.
Take a dentist’s office. Most have an administrative assistant who calls patients to remind them about upcoming appointments. While reminders are important, phone calls like these can eat up time that could be better spent. Automated notification and reminder software could reduce staff time on the phone by as much as 80 percent.
3. Eliminate Pointless Meetings
“Conference room. Five minutes.” If you’ve ever seen an episode of The Office, you know these famous words from boss Michael Scott indicate a pointless meeting is about to take place. While you might not think your meetings are that useless, they’re probably less productive than you realize.
Excessive meetings aren’t just a waste of time – they also strain company morale and cheapen your employees’ view of what’s considered important. Look at your schedule and think through each regular, recurring meeting you have. Unless you can find some tangible value in a specific meeting, go ahead and cancel it. Send an email instead.
4. Block Distracting Websites
Some employees simply don’t have the discipline to avoid distractions. If you find that a lot of your employees are wasting time social networking, playing games, or sending personal emails, don’t even give them the option. Block distracting websites and prevent them from the temptation in the first place. You’ll get some grunts and moans, but remind employees that they’re here to work, not to mess around.
5. Allow for Breaks
There’s a difference between letting employees waste time and giving them breaks so that they can refuel and return to work with more focus. Studies show that employees can generally only focus for an hour or less at a time, so offering brief, five-minute, office-wide breaks every hour or so may be a good way to keep employees engaged over the course of a day.
Speak Up or Forever Hold Your Peace
Habits can form over a very short period. If your employees are doing things that waste time, nip it in the bud as soon as possible. The longer you let those behaviors go, the less of a chance you have of being able to point them back on the right track. Now’s the time to take action and let employees know that you have high expectations for their time “on the clock.”