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How to Effectively Minimize Employees Wasting Time at Work

By business.com editorial staff,
business.com writer
| Updated
Mar 11, 2020
Image Credit: djile/Shutterstock
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If you're not proactive, your team might spend more time on social media than their work.

  • As a leader, you can take an active role in minimizing the amount of time your employees waste at work.
  • There are some unique and innovative ways to help increase productivity.
  • As a leader, you set the tone for communication and production in an office. 

As a leader, it's your job to create and maintain a productive work environment for your team. If you're not proactive, they might spend more time on social media than on their assignments.

Wasted time often leads to wasted money in the workplace. As a leader, it's your job to minimize it as much as possible. This isn't always easy with employees of various ages and personalities clustered together, but it's crucial to creating a productive culture.

While it might not be intentional, your team might spend more time browsing the web or scrolling through social media than on assignments, which leads to lower-quality, slower work. If you're not proactive about addressing this issue, it can damage your company's productivity and reputation. Here are three ways to minimize wasted time at work.

1. Create a productive culture. 

Most work-related issues can be prevented by cultivating a positive work culture. Create an atmosphere that encourages hard work and employee satisfaction.

"It's important to create a work environment where people want to come to work," said Jennifer Moore, director of marketing for The Pizza Press. "That does mean different things to different companies and industries, but it changes the way you think about how you manage your workplace and employees."

This often starts with training, which ensures everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them.

"If you create habits on the front end of training, you'll find each shift will begin to work as a team and it will start to become a natural habit on how they work every day," said Norman Albright, vice president of corporate operations at Ballard Brands, parent company of PJ's Coffee. "Remember to reinforce the positives."

The best way to do this is leading by example, Moore added. Demonstrating a strong work ethic will mitigate wasted time. However, if there are still evident issues with time-management and priorities, don't be afraid to implement stricter tactics, like monitoring performance and assigning to-do lists.

"To-do lists are a great way to prevent time being wasted since employees have a clear idea of what their tasks are," added Albright. "If we notice an employee is not maximizing their time, we encourage them in a positive way."

2. Deal with social media distractions. 

Social media, while an important part of many businesses today, can be distracting. If employees are constantly scrolling through Instagram photos of their favorite vloggers or tweeting about their #MondayBlues, then they aren't using it to benefit the company – and this needs to be addressed.

Lisa Maxwell, owner of Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Courtice, Ontario, said that because social media is a huge part of her business, she doesn't discourage it entirely.

"Instead of taking it away and banning it in the office, I encourage they use it productively to benefit our bottom line," she said. "For example, I encourage them to … update their Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter pages [with] … our new promotions, and reach out to clients with up to date information."

Moore agreed, noting that social media can be beneficial for many facets of business beyond just marketing. 

"There are professional groups, influencers, brand affinities, research and just basic aspects of branding and promotion that social media can be a tool for," she said.

3. Notice the signs.

Make yourself aware of any distractions or apathetic individuals in the workplace. While employees need occasional downtime, it shouldn't prevent them from completing their assignments or doing their jobs.

"If employees are wasting time at work, their responsibilities are not being completed to the standards they should be," said Albright. "We know they are using their time wisely if they are proactive and the duties they are assigned are finished."

Moore said she goes by the saying: "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean." In other words, if employees seem to be aimless or overly social, odds are they're wasting time that could be spent productively, she said.

Don't be so focused on your own time that you become unaware of how your workers are spending theirs. Sometimes, all work seems to be done and employees feel they have nothing better to do than sit and chat. In those moments, remind them of future assignments or responsibilities they can be taking care of instead. 

What factors increase productivity?

There are many ways to increase productivity in your office, from changing how you interact directly with your team to changing to the environment around them. You might be surprised at how much the office space can impact productivity. The Productivity Center at Calendar offers unique tips.

Background music can impact mood, which can cause a positive uptick in productivity. The more pleasing the music is, the more it might help employees feel motivated to finish projects faster. 

The lighting in an office can also directly impact how an employee feels. If the lights are too bright, it could impact an employee’s vision or cause migraines. If the lighting is too dim, the employees may not be able to see or focus on the work they are doing. It is important to find the right lighting balance. 

Encouraging and motivating employees can go far in helping you improve the productivity of your team. Providing words of encouragement to your team inspires them to do a better job and to work together. When you recognize employees for hard and valuable work, they know they are appreciated. This helps improve the morale in the office, which creates happier employees. When you have happy employees, they are more likely to collaborate and communicate with each other. As a leader, you must communicate with your team as often as possible, which will encourage communication among the entire team. 

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