Lazy Employees? 6 Workplace Issues to Blame

You hired your staff for a reason. If there had been red flags on their resume, the recruiter never would have called. If their interview had been a disaster, no job offer would’ve been extended. So if the productivity of an employee (or group of employees) is less than stellar, maybe the workplace is the culprit.

Here are six examples of workplace issues that could be affecting employee productivity and how employers can solve them.

1. No Direction

It’s reasonable to expect employees to have a certain level of autonomy, but if supervisors fail to give them any guidance whatsoever, staff members will find it difficult to manage their time and prioritize tasks appropriately.

Solution: Managers should communicate expectations to all their associates regularly. Scheduling recurring check-ins to discuss short-term and long-term goals can help employees stay on target and ahead of their to-do lists.

2. Inadequate Training

Companies won’t hire candidates without the requisite skills for the position, but each business has their own standards and processes. Insufficient training leads to (sometimes costly) errors, errors lead to anxious employees, and anxious employees make more errors—a vicious cycle.

Solution: Have an established system for onboarding and training all their new employees. Teaching them the ins and outs of the company can make them feel more confident and help prevent avoidable mistakes.

3. Poor Work-Life Balance

A standard workweek is 40 to 45 hours, but how the remaining 123 hours are spent is up to the employees. Sometimes working late or on the weekends is necessary, but when staff members must constantly sacrifice their personal time, they’re more likely to get burned out and look for opportunities elsewhere.

Solution: Employees work to live, not the other way around. Businesses that offer technology solutions that automate menial tasks and streamline communication will have a happier, more motivated staff.

4. A Lack of Quiet Spaces

Even the most enthusiastic supporters of open floor plans need an occasional break from the noise. If there’s nowhere in the office for employees to escape the commotion, they’ll likely become distracted and lose focus on the tasks at hand.

Solution: Space may be limited, but it is in the best interest of managers to dedicate an area as a quiet retreat for employees to work without interruptions. Set up a process for room reservations so employees can claim quiet space when they need it most.

5. Unrealistic Expectations

Staring at a to-do list and knowing, without a doubt, it isn’t humanly possible to complete every task by its assigned deadline is disheartening. How can an employee be motivated and productive when they’re facing an insurmountable mountain of work?

Solution: Rarely will an employee proactively approach their manager when they’re feeling overwhelmed for fear of appearing inefficient. Therefore, the onus is on supervisors to ensure their associates workloads are manageable and make adjustments when necessary. Set aside 15 minutes every month to meet with each team member and make sure they don’t feel swamped.

6. Zero Feedback

It’s discouraging for an employee to walk into their performance review and learn for the first time that their work isn’t satisfactory. If a supervisor doesn’t inform their staff of opportunities for improvement as they arise, the employee will assume their work is acceptable, even if it isn’t. Conversely, staff members benefit from hearing about the areas in which they’re excelling.

Solution: Giving constructive criticism is a must-have management skill. Supervisors shouldn’t wait until reviews to provide feedback. Instead, they should acknowledge superior work and address performance issues promptly.

Just as the management team expects an employee to take responsibility for his or her actions, managers must acknowledge the part they play in workplace efficiency. While some employees might simply be bad hires, there are certainly plenty of team members who just need a supportive work environment and encouragement from their supervisors to be highly productive.

Elizabeth Dukes, is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, co-founder and EVP of iOFFICE and writer for