Wasting Time At Work

In back to back surveys conducted by Salary.com in 2012 and 2013, about Wasting Time at Work, the following was discovered: 64% (in 2012) to 70% (in 2013) of survey respondents admitted wasting time at work on a daily basis. Time wasted ranged from 30 minutes to several hours each day. Where did that wasted time go? Folks responded with  43% talking with co-workers, 34% on-line activities and 4% each on texting and personal calls. The next question is simple – why? The most significant responses by workers is 11% felt that there was no incentive to work hard, 10% got no satisfaction from what they,  9% were just bored and 3% hit on low pay. Ever really think about your workplace and where you think you would fall within these results?

I truly liked the “what’s the biggest distraction in your workplace?” question and responses.

  • Too Many Meetings: 19%
  • Inefficient co-workers: 17%
  • Other co-workers: 17%
  • Office politics: 13%
  • Busy work: 13%
  • Other: 11%And finally, My Boss: 8%

Most managers would be shocked about this information. Some of the percentages do shock me a bit, but overall the responses don’t. Who would be surprised by the increase in on-line activities? Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn – all are in double digits. We all know that during football season – ESPN gets plenty of eyeballs – as Fantasy Football is a big deal. ESPN also does pretty good in March with NCAA basketball. Others that get plenty are Google+, YouTube, Twitter and Craiglists. I bet – next year Pinterest will be much higher. I know of plenty of employers that try to block these websites while using their internal networks, but smartphones today got the distraction covered.

As a manager, what are you to do?

  • Make sure that you set challenging and clear expectations! Make sure that each team member understands the what they are supposed to do and how and when they are supposed to do it.
  • Set, communicate and measure performance expectations! This is where you as the manager can make sure that each team member knows how they are going to be measured on their performance. If they know that their output is going to be monitored (and they can monitor it themselves) with follow-up, wasted time will be limited significantly.

Some would say that some wasted time is good for productivity. Getting out and talking with your co-workers can have a positive effect on teamwork. As long as the amount of time does not interfere with the output needed to perform. Just keep your eyes on what is important and hold your team (and yourself) accountable to the bottom-line and all should go well.


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