How employers can reduce workplace procrastination

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It’s ‘National Procrastination Week’ so there is no better time to examine the effect’s procrastination can have on your organisation – and how to best manage it.

A recent study discovered workers are spending more than two hours per day procrastinating.

Statistically it found employees are only working 73 percent of the hours that they are employed to do.

And the study found chronic procrastinators make up approximately 20 percent of the workforce.

HR Team Director, Martina McAuley, says: “Procrastination can negatively affect the productivity of an organisation and reduce employee morale if it is not managed effectively.”

Potential reasons for procrastination can be:

  1. Perfectionism.
  2. Dislike task or person.
  3. Too tired.
  4. Fear of failure or negative feedback.

How do you recognise procrastination? Here’s some of the signs that indicate employees could be procrastinating:

  • Excessive excuses why things aren’t getting done.
  • More breaks and non-working activities including socialising with co-workers more than usual, excessive web surfing, longer lunches or smoke breaks.
  • Slower response to phone calls, emails, and messages about a specific project or task at hand.
  • A negative shift in attitude or mood when the project comes up in conversation.

The effects of procrastinating in the workplace

Increased workload for co-workers that creates resentment – If someone waits until the last minute or until it is too late, the burden of their responsibilities may become someone else’s job. That can create resentment between co-workers.

Creates more stress – A procrastinator will likely become anxious as a deadline approaches. Even if that does not happen, putting off work will most likely make others nervous that the job will not get done in time.

Business reputation and revenue are affected – Deadlines may be missed or pushed back and money could be lost. The work may not be of a high standard as it has been rushed, this may affect your relationship with clients.

How employers can reduce procrastination in the workplace?

Ms McAuley advises: “Procrastination can be minimised by discovering why employees are doing it. The source of the problem will lead you to a solution.

“Employers need to assess whether the team or culture of the organisation triggers this behaviour. They should be encouraged to give regular feedback to employees and ensure they have the right skills to do their job and that they are motivated.

“Hold an informal discussion to find out what is going on. Approach the employee in a non-threatening, caring manner that will not make them defensive.

“They may be overwhelmed with the workload, which would mean that they need your help to prioritise, or they may need the guidance of a mentor.

“If it is a confidence issue, hold a brief prep talk to boost their confidence.”


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