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Employee Procrastination: How It Impacts Your Business And The Workplace

Published November 03, 2016 (last updated June 24, 2020) -
Woman Proscratinating While Looking At Computer

Are your employees often guilty of procrastinating and leaving tasks to the last possible moment? Are they currently avoiding responding to a difficult email, or have not given an important task the level of attention that you feel it requires?

The words “I will do that later” may sound harmless, but they might also be a warning sign to what can develop into a bigger problem.

How does procrastination affect the workplace?

If employees procrastinate, it can have a negative effect on the workplace, which is summarised below.

  • It puts additional workload onto other employees.

If a staff member waits until the last minute to complete a task, or waits until the task is already due before deciding to action it, a co-worker may be forced to pick up the task, which can breed ill feelings and resentment.

  • Procrastination causes anxiety.

Not only does the employee who is procrastinating tend to get anxious as a deadline looms, but others inside, or potentially outside, the workplace also begin to become nervous that a job will not get done. They begin to doubt the employee’s competence which can make your team or your business look unprofessional.

  • The job never gets completed.

This is the worst case scenario, where the employee who leaves things to the last moment does not pull out all the stops and the job does not get completed. This causes deadlines to be pushed back, resulting in lost money and overall business productivity.

Why does procrastination happen and how can you as an employer remedy it?

Put simply, employees procrastinate because they are either overwhelmed or unmotivated. Your first step as an employer is to discuss with the employee the underlying reasons as to why jobs and tasks are not being completed in a timely matter.

The employee may be struggling with an increased workload, and need assistance prioritising which task they should be completing first. As an employer you need to be aware of how much responsibility you are putting on your employee, and assess whether your expectations are reasonable. Are you asking your employee to do the impossible by requesting a three week job be completed in three days?

By having a one on one conversation with your employee, you are providing them with the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have. This is their chance to inform you that they have not completed tasks because they simply do not have the time, or because the tasks are too overwhelming, complex or daunting for them to action.

If an employee is procrastinating due to lacking motivation, then this needs to be addressed in a timely manner before it begins to negatively affect your workplace. An employee may be unmotivated because they feel that the time and effort they put into tasks is unappreciated, and therefore not worth doing.

As an employer, it is your responsibly to determine whether the employee cannot or simply will not complete a task that has been given to them, and work with them to find a solution.

Employsure is Australia’s leading workplace relations specialist, and is here to answer any questions you have in regards to effectively managing your employees. Call us today on 1300 651 415.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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