Productivity Killers: How Much Time Do Your Employees Waste at Work?

Written by | mHelpDesk Community

For a small business owner, wasted employee time is a huge issue that hits you where it hurts: the bottom line. Lack of productivity hurts your staff as well. If your business suffers, everyone involved does too, sometimes with staff cuts and stagnant salaries. Your employees aren’t necessarily slackers; they may not realize how much time certain behaviors are taking out of their workday. Some experts estimate workers waste one day out of each five they are at work. You and your management need to be on the lookout for these productivity killers so your business can remain healthy.

Facebook/Web Surfing

Facebook has become more than a website. It’s now a lifestyle for many people, one that they integrate into their workday. They may well check Facebook before they begin a task, during the task, and after the task. Research shows that 77 percent of workers with a Facebook account access it at work.

Other sites such as YouTube, Amazon and fantasy football also attract workers’ attention. The average worker spends up to three hours out of every eight-hour shift web surfing, with some people topping that high number. This practice costs employers hundreds of millions of dollars every year in lost productivity.

Cell Phone Usage

Before cell phones, employees couldn’t easily contact their family and friends during the workday. Now, they can text, instant message and talk without it being obvious to you or their immediate managers. Currently, employees are using their cell phones for around 56 minutes each day on non-work activities such as email and social media. The smartphone may be productivity killer number one for many businesses.


Some businesses rarely hold a meeting, but others may have them every day. Meetings turn out to be a huge productivity killer for those in management. Statistics show that there are 25 million meetings every day in the United States that can take up to 15 percent of your company’s time. Those in upper management may spend up to half their time in meetings, many of which are not productive. Those who attend are often multi-tasking or simply daydreaming so they get little out of the meeting.


Humans are social beings, so bonding with coworkers is a natural and even healthy practice. Regrettably, some employees take the practice to an extreme. The number of hours wasted socializing are harder to pin down than other productivity killers because people chat while they are engaged in other tasks. Of course, talking while working slows down the process and leads to errors. However, experts estimate that workers spend at least 15 minutes each workday chatting with their coworkers. In addition to face-to-face communication, your employees also have the option of instant messaging people in the office or others outside of the workplace.

Managers are also guilty of extreme socializing, chatting up employees and other managers about last weekend’s golf game or other topics. Not all socializing should be considered lost time because good relationships at work can enhance productivity and job satisfaction. As with most things, the key is finding a healthy balance.

Younger workers tend to waste more time at work than workers over age 45, so the problem has intensified in recent years. Breakthroughs in technology have made it much easier for employees to tend to their personal business while on the clock. For a small business owner, the challenge is establishing policies that keep people focused on their jobs without causing staff resentment. Finding solutions to these productivity killers requires creativity and flexibility on your part and the part of your employees.


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Last modified: May 2, 2018

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