A happy employee equals a productive one. Every company wants their employees working optimally but often they unwittingly undermine their productivity. From embracing a culture of order-givers to communicating ineffectively, here’s a look at five ways you're making your employees slack off.
1. Giving orders, not sharing ideas. Collaboration is a buzz word at many companies, yet there are still a lot of firms that have a culture where managers give orders and workers take them, leaving zero room for any back and forth. Companies may think this is the best way to ensure things get done, but in reality, it ends up killing any motivation an employee may have. “When you have a culture of order-givers and order-takers it’s totally draining,” says Christine Comaford, author of the book SmartTribes: How Teams Become Brilliant Together. “It dumbs people down. They are just waiting for the next order to be given.” Comaford says leaders need to ask questions instead of telling them what to do. Once employees are given a chance to weigh in with their opinion, they’ll feel part of the team and will be charged up about their job. “People don’t feel engaged and powerful if they are just given orders,” she says.
2. Not communicating effectively. Nothing is going to stop employees from working faster than rumors of impending layoffs or trouble within the business. If management doesn’t address the rumors or stop them from spreading it can have a big impact on productivity and you may end up having to post a job looking for some replacements. According to Pat Sweeney, human resource manager at Old Colony Hospice and Palliative Care, leaders within the company have to communicate clearly anything good or bad about the business and provide details so employees aren’t left wondering what’s going to happen to them. “Improving communication is something that must always be in the forefront of management practices,” says Sweeney. “If things are not going well, engage the staff to suggest ways to confront the downturn and improve it. Keep employees current with changes. No one likes change, but we all know it is constant—it is the surprises that create the problems.”
3. Not holding employees accountable. In order for employees to excel within an organization, they have to own specific tasks and be held accountable to those directives. Unfortunately many companies don’t set up a culture of accountability and then get frustrated when their employees aren’t meeting the goals. To counter employees slacking off, Comaford says the manager has to first assign the employee his or her tasks and make sure there are clear expectations about it. The team member then has to agree to meet the deadline or complete the task and know that there is a reward or consequence if he or she is successful or fails, says Comaford. “Everyone wants people to be more accountable, but the leaders have to create the conditions for people to thrive,” she says.
4. Not rewarding employees. Most people take pride in their work and want the recognition when they do a good job. Companies that fail to recognize the achievements of their employees will likely end up with a lot of unmotivated employees on their hands. Making it worse for productivity are those companies that fail to establish policies and practices that reward and provide incentives to be productive, says Sweeney. Instead of ignoring employees work, Sweeney says to make sure the company has effective human resources programs that are supported within the organization. Rewards and incentive programs are key to ensuring employees stay motivated and don't slack off.
5. Thinking every employee is replaceable. Yes, it’s a tough job market, and yes, there are a lot of people looking for work, but that doesn’t mean a company shouldn’t value their employees and treat them in a way that will breed loyalty. “Not replacing empty positions and expecting others to pick up the slack and do double duty, often without additional compensation,” is a surefire way to sap productivity, says Sweeney. Companies also hurt productivity when they have the attitude that there is a limitless labor pool to choose from if people do end up leaving. “It’s estimated that the cost of recruiting, hiring and training new personnel is equal to one year’s wages,” says Sweeney.