The 5 Top Ways Employees Waste Time During the Day

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(This post originally appeared on Inc.)

According to a new survey released by staffing firm OfficeTeam, your employees are wasting up to one full day a week doing things that are not related to their jobs. Should this concern you? No, it shouldn’t.

The survey, which polled more than 300 U.S. workers and another 300 senior managers over the age of 18 who work in an office with more than 20 employees found that workers are spending 42 minutes per day – or about 3.5 hours per week – doing personal tasks and another 56 minutes each day – or 5 hours a week – messing around on their mobile devices. So where else are they wasting time? Here the top five activities:

1. Personal email

2. Social networks

3. Sports sites

4. Mobile games

5. Online shopping sites

The worst offenders? Yeah, it’s those millennials. According to the survey, employees between the ages of 18 and 34 spend about 70 minutes browsing on their mobile devices and additional 48 minutes doing personal tasks each work day.

The big question is: what can you do about this?

You could have your network administrator or IT person block websites. In fact, more than half of the employees surveyed said that their companies do just that. But c’mon – people are smarter than that, right? If they want to get to blocked sites all they need to do is jump on their smartphones – which is exactly what is happening. 58 percent of the people surveyed say they use their personal devices at work to visit pages banned by the company (a 36-point jump from a similar survey conducted in 2012). Guys are the biggest culprits – more than two-thirds of them use their devices specifically to get around their employer’s internal controls and access blocked websites.

Blocking websites isn’t that effective. So what is effective to stop your people from wasting time during the day? How about doing nothing at all.

Do you really care if your employees are “wasting” time on their phone during the day? Don’t you have other things to worry about? Shouldn’t you be more focused on operational issues, growing sales, developing long term marketing strategies and reviewing your profitability? If you’re tracking the time that an employee is spending online as a key measure of productivity then you’re tracking the wrong measure of productivity. In the end it’s all about results. It’s output, plain and simple.

You are not running a turn-of-the-20th-century sweatshop. Your office doesn’t have rows of typewriters where supervisors are closely watching the behavior of their underlings. Today’s workforce is different. Approximately half is made up of the millennial generation and this generation repeatedly demands more flexibility and independence. They must be managed differently than generations before them. Your job is not to watch them as they do their tasks. Your objectives should be to evaluate their results. That’s what they want. That’s what you should be doing.

So instead of micro-managing what they’re doing every day, instead take the time to mutually agree on specific, black and white deliverables that each employee is responsible for. If the employee is in customer service it’s the completion of a certain number of service tickets within a set time that gets a high customer survey rating. If they’re in sales then it’s all about reaching quota. If they’re in marketing then it’s the execution of a set number of campaigns that generate an expected number of leads. It they’re in production it’s the making of a minimum number of pieces. If it’s field service it’s the completion of a certain number of jobs on time, again with a high customer service rating.

If your employees are meeting their deliverables and reaching the objectives that you’ve set out for them then who cares what else they’re doing? Surf away. Enjoy. Play games. Check out Barstool. This is what people do today to balance the pressures of work and the joys of life. As long as the job is getting done, why not let your people do the same?

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