They’re lazy up north

lazyYes, that is a grossly judgemental and sweeping statement but the statistics speak for themselves. 42% of respondents of a recent Employee Benefits survey from Liverpool waste more than 3 hours per day, with Manchester not far behind at 34% (http://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/item/12357/23/5/3). These figures are huge, but perhaps even more shocking is that the UK average stands at 14% of staff wasting 3 or more hours. But we’re not alone – over in the US, the average worker wastes over 2 hours per day (http://www.super-solutions.com/EmployeesWastingTime.asp). That’s 2 hours, every single day, of doing nothing work related, and they are being paid for the priviledge! Different industry types demonstrate distinct trends too, with insurance workers coming up top as the biggest time wasters at 2.5 hours per day, followed by public sector workers and research and development workers. So, if you run an insurance company in Liverpool watch out…
 
Research suggests many reasons why an employee might time waste, some less excusable than others. The number one reason is not having enough work to do, followed by feeling they are underpaid (http://www.super-solutions.com/EmployeesWastingTime.asp) – both suggesting some underlying issues needing to be resolved by the employer. Other reasons include being distracted by co-workers or not having enough evening or weekend time – which are perhaps issues the employees should be dealing with themselves.
 
So what are they doing with all this wasted time? Probably as you expected, the biggest time wasting activity is surfing the internet (48%) (http://blog.cyclope-series.com/2009/07/13/employees-wasting-time-at-work/). This is followed by socialising with co-workers (33%) and conducting personal business (30%). Possibly better than staring into space and daydreaming, but not exactly the productive way you hope your employees would be spending their time.

Some of these issues can be minimised by the employer. Time wasting could be a red flag that your employees don’t have enough work to do, or are feeling dissatisfied in some way.  If they haven’t got enough work to do then perhaps you need to reassess their role – do they need more of a challenge? More controversially, if they have so much free time, is there actually a need for their role? If your staff are motivated then surely they will be asking for additional work if they aren’t busy, or using the time to work on their personal development. It seems to me that, in the majority of cases, if employees are feeling engaged they won’t be wasting time at work. If they want to do well and want the company to do well, they will work hard to achieve that – leaving little time to waste.
 
At the end of the day, it is an employee’s responsibility to use their time at work well, and it isn’t too much to expect that whilst you are paying them, they will be getting on with their work. It also seems some employees confuse ‘working long hours’ with ‘working well’ – where in reality it isn’t about the hours spent, it is about the quantity and the quality of the work produced.

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