dealing with lazy workers

Practical Ways to get rid of Lazy Workers at Workplace [Explained]

How to get rid of lazy employees? Working with a lazy worker(s) is an experience that can be frustrating. It is like carrying dead weight. And to keep productivity high, employers try to develop new tactics to get rid of lazy employees.

And while being busy is not the same as being productive, being lazy is not directly synonymous with being unproductive.

But then, the aftermath effect of laziness is usually unproductivity.

And that is why you don’t want to have a lazy colleague or a staff in your team. It is something you wouldn’t want to pray for or desire.


Who is Lazy Worker?

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, “Lazy” as a word means not easily aroused to action or work. It went further to outline idle and slothful as synonyms of lazy. And it then itemizes ambitious, diligent, enterprising, zealous as antonyms of the word lazy.

Now, enough of the English class! After all, I do not have a degree in English.

A lazy worker is a person that shows lack of diligence in the daily execution of his job. He shows no enterprising spirit in performing his responsibilities, as captured in the job description penned down by his employer.


Types of lazy employees

Many people go to work who probably should stay at home to do whatever they want with their time. Even if it means just sleeping all day long. 

But on the other hand, some want to make valuable input at their workplaces. But their underperformance over a set time has earned them the name a “Lazy worker.”

Based on this, in this article, it is safe to categorize lazy employees into two:

1.    Outright (deliberate) Lazy workers

2.    Underperforming (Unproductive) Lazy workers

Outright (deliberate) Lazy workers

These are employees that have, over time, displayed a lack of focus, commitment, and basically, consistency in their underperformance. These category of workers give in to distraction when they should be working. Also, Outright Lazy workers get comfortable procrastinating tasks until a much later time when the deadline is close.

Also, lazy workers dodge away from responsibility, even if it means delegating things they are supposed to do themselves. In other words, they subtly push tasks to others, even though their position disqualifies them to do so.

Underperforming (Unproductive) Lazy workers

Being unproductive is not excusable for any employee. But most of us cannot deny that we get unproductive at some point. Depending on particular emergent issues in our lives at the time, which may arise from stress at work. 

Also, this underperformance could be a result of trying to cope with pressure, family, or personal life stress. It can also be due to a deficiency in our knowledge, skills, or training. But you need these put together to be able to carry out tasks and roles captured in your job descriptions.


Signs and Traits of Lazy Employees

We have looked at the different types of lazy workers one can come across in any workplace. However, knowing the types of lazy workers in any business will only do a little good to a manager or a supervisor.

But knowing the traits of lazy workers is very significant to an individual’s success as a business leader. Yes, it will help you identify or spot lazy workers who are not pulling their weight at work.

And these signs include:

1.    Easily get distracted

2.    Quick to use weak excuses to exonerate their underperformance

3.    Poor work ethic and attitude

4.    Inability to work independently

5.    Lack of openness to knowledge and engagement

Sign #1: Easily get distracted

Undoubtedly, distraction is a terrible killer to productivity. But without self-control and discipline to manage time and other available resources, a worker cannot be efficient at his workplace.

Sign #2: Quick to use weak excuses to exonerate their underperformance

When you identify a worker who is always quick to excuse his underperformance, you have found a lazy person.

Yes, lazy employees find it hard to stay honest and accountable to themselves– and to standards. That explains why there need to be some disciplinary measures and strict monitoring in place. It is to ensure they (lazy workers) adhere to corporate standards.

Sign #3: Poor work ethic and attitude

As a manager or supervisor, you can identify members of your team that are diligent and dedicated to their job. Through their work ethic. Interestingly, this is the same formula you can apply for spotting out lazy workers.

More specifically, you can observe laziness or slothfulness in a worker in his attitude to work, and by pondering over questions like this:

  • What is his punctuality record like?
  • Does he get to work late and hurries to go home early?
  • Does he show up at meetings late whenever important meetings are called for by management?
  • Does he adhere to well-defined standards and unanimous policies set up by management?

Sign #4: Inability to work independently

Three out of every four HR personnel know the impact of recruiting staff that can work independently with little or no supervision.

But sadly, for whatever reason(s), they recruit some lazy people into the team. And this category of persons finds it hard to work with minimal supervision, and without micromanaging them.

Sign #5: Not open to knowledge.

Openness to knowledge is a sign of someone that is adaptive, ready to learn and to build capacity. Workers with this trait are quick to engage in projects in their workplaces. They are open to knowledge and are hungry for growth career-wise and personally.

Unfortunately, that is not true for lazy employees. They look for ways not to engage in projects and activities. And through this, they do not allow themselves to grow and advance. That is in terms of bringing out their ingenuity, creativity, and initiative.


How to get rid of lazy employees at Workplace

1. Keep Track of how Worker Use their time

Time is money, and every business understands this. That is the reason management of every business organization should be able to measure employees’ performance and productivity. And to this, management needs to develop standards or metrics against time. It could be in the form of daily target, weekly, or monthly target.

Taking my experience in fintech industry, I can say that conversations in most companies are purely client-based.

In other words, there are usually lots of interactions with customers via phone calls. My employer used data generated from our system to determine staff performance in various departments. These data include the number of customers they have conversations with on an hourly basis.

Again, these indices vary from company to company. Therefore, the number of phone calls made may not be the metric your organization adopts in judging performance. It could be something else, say, the number of an item designed or produced. 

However, the idea is to make workers, particularly the lazy ones, accountable to management for how they spend their time. Either through their team lead or supervisors.

2. Provide adequate and proper training

Unproductivity is something the management of any business will not want to condone. But an ill-trained staff may be somewhat justified if he gets tagged as a lazy worker due to underperformance. Especially if he never received adequate training or was poorly equipped to carry out such a job.

That is why the HR team of any business organization needs to work tirelessly in ensuring that staff gets the necessary knowledge and technical know-how required for the effective execution of their jobs. This is one of the practical ways to beating down work laziness and handling lazy staff in a workplace.

3. Set deadlines and consequences

This point further builds on the first point: keep track of time. But keeping track of time requires the presence of a “standard” (the business goals), which management usually break into smaller pieces. Talking about daily targets or goals.

That is because success in realizing daily goals leads to the successful attainment of weekly goals. And then the same for monthly and annual goals or objectives.

Thus, every manager or supervisor should be able to set clear, realistic, and achievable targets for their subordinates. And consequently, this will produce the “all hands on deck” mentality in them.

Also, managers should state and inform workers of the consequences for any gross slackness on their part. This should do this ahead of time and with specific focus on the lazy ones.

With such a measure in place, lazy workers who jump from one desk to another to gossip or chit-chat will get hooked. That is they will be under strict and careful monitoring.

4. Create a conducive working environment

Business experts cannot overemphasize the importance of a good physical working environment with the necessary work tools and equipment. That is because it boosts productivity and lessens the likelihood of workers being lazy at work.

But creating a conducive working environment goes beyond the physical working environment. Yes, it practically includes putting workers’ mental health and motivation level into consideration. Particularly when management is formulating, changing, and implementing workplace policies and regulation.

Ways to create an Anti-lazy Work environment [Conducive environment]

I. A well-structured system for work execution should be in place to avoid confusion.

II. Make employees understand that it is okay to ask for help from their colleagues or superiors as the situation demands. When workers are fearful in asking for support in carrying out their roles, their productivity is adversely affected.

III. Help workers to get emotionally connected to the office. That can only get achieved when employers and managers avoid creating unnecessary anxiety in staff. The reason is that anxiety and heightened pressure get workers (including those underperforming) boxed up or slumped in laziness.

Sadly, anxiety often creeps in from work overload or treating workers like robots or machines, who have no feeling other than to work, work, and WORK.

IV. Value the input of staff in the decision-making processes

Ideally, nobody will apply for a job to sleep on duty or with the intention to be a rebel or a strong defiant. But then, employees sometimes feel emotionally bruised by their employers. Especially when their feelings and concerns get swept under the carpet by their so-called employers. Not paying attention to their emotional needs, pains and grievances leaves them with no sense of belonging.

And this can, in turn, make them somewhat rebellious and unmotivated toward the overall objectives of the organization.

5. Provide timely and sound feedback

Effective communication is very paramount to the success of any venture, big or small. And feedback is an indispensable element in the process of communication.

As said earlier, a business organization should set standards for productivity for their staff. That will allow them to measure the extent of staff efficiency.

On that ground, management should give timely and explicit feedback to workers, including the lazy ones. With particular interest in the category of workers, management should inform them of their performance from time to time (even if it means talking to them privately), advising and encouraging them to up their game to avert drastic actions like lay off.

6. Allow staff to make adjustments

You might have heard of the phrase second chance, and you do have your perception about it. Everybody does. For some people, a second chance could mean a third chance, a fourth chance, and even more.

Anyways, the goal of this write-up is not to advocate for the second-chance philosophy. But the emphasis here is that first, staff— those already identified as lazy workers at work— should get an opportunity for adjustment.

No doubt, the laziness of some workers might cause an organization tons of money, a decline in turnover, or perhaps a lawsuit.

a second chance to stop being lazy

Hence, managers should try to offer identified lazy workers opportunity to make up for their flaws, depending on the cost implication of the laxity. To allow them to consciously drop down their poor attitude to work by applying due diligence in their performance of their jobs.

However, a layoff may be the best solution if lazy workers at work choose to be unchangeable. Remember the saying, A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.


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