Joyce Meyer, a Charismatic Christian author and speaker, said that,” Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.”

Unfortunately for many, such “joy-stealers” can mostly be found in the place where almost everybody spends the bulk of the day – the Office. Regrettably, there are many other factors, aside from the joy-stealers, that make employees unproductive at work that managers and company officers must look out for. We all know that being in the office and looking at the computer all day long do not necessarily mean that you’re really working. In fact, if asked nicely, many employees would admit that they spend at least one hour during their work shift doing something other than work. Experience would dictate that it is not an uncommon thing to see employees updating their social media accounts during times when they were supposedly working. Actually, even the very managers who should be monitoring such activities also update their social media accounts during office hours! And guess what? These little hours of unproductive activities during work by each employee, if put together and converted to cash or lost profit every month, would most likely show a staggering loss for the company. Taken together as a whole, on will see that these “stolen” minutes by employees actually hampers the growth of progress and profit of a company. So what steps must be taken by the management in order to maximize productivity and profits without having to spend so much?

The top factors, most especially in the Philippine setting, that kill employee productivity are Cellphone Calling and Texting. We all know that almost everyone in this Texting Capital of the World text each other constantly. Now, with the advent of unlimited call and text services, nobody bats an eye anymore with the idea of talking for hours on the cellphone. Though such technological advancements have connected us with each other, it has come to a point that everybody is now too connected at every hour of the day. There are researchers who found that people actually feel anxious they are away from their cellphones for too long. To address this issue, most of the BPO companies in the Philippines have implemented the “Strictly No Cellphone on the Production Floor” policy which requires agents to leave their cellphones in their lockers before going to their respective work areas. Although originally implemented to avoid computer and client call interferences, the prohibition of using cellphones during work hours has made it possible for agents to concentrate on giving quality outputs in their jobs. The management, for other industries, has the prerogative to require employees to leave their cellphones in their bags or locked desks during meetings or important planning. The point is to limit the use of cellphones during work hours in order to prevent distractions at work.

Another distraction that limits employee productivity is the social media. Social media is fun and has been a reason for connecting people worldwide. Though an effective marketing tool, the social media is also a productivity killer if constantly accessed during work hours. Many companies have already blocked some websites and social sites in their workplaces in order to address this issue. Though such policy is effective, mobile data plans offered by the telecommunications companies have made it possible for employees to surf the internet or to take a peek at their social media accounts. Another solution? Jamming devices covering the work areas so that only during official breaks can workers access the internet sites outside of the office. Or, again, confiscate the cellphones!

Gossiping is a seemingly favorite pastime of Filipinos especially in the workplace. Though sometimes harmless, gossips will surely have a greater negative impact in many aspects of the lives of employees. Gossips drain the morale of employees especially those who have been targeted. Nobody wants to go to an office charged with negativity. Employees who are forced to always look behind their backs and to be constantly conscious about what they say or do will be too distracted to focus on their jobs. Managers will need to open their eyes and ears in order to identify the rumors going around as well as the rumor-mongers in the group so that they can act accordingly.

A surprising factor that hinders productivity are long, frequent meetings. We all know that meetings are important but too many of them will definitely interrupt work flow and processes. Since we Filipinos are culturally social, meetings also tend to last longer because of unrelated chitchats. If your meetings are going nowhere, you will have to stop and reassess such meetings. It would make meetings efficient if there is an agenda that all the participants can know in advance and if such meetings will start and end on time. Be time-conscious in your meetings and stick to the agenda. If an issue is too small that an email about it would suffice, then just craft a detailed and comprehensive email instead. Want to make your meetings shorter and more efficient? Do it standing up.

Office chitchats are good for integration and camaraderie if done in moderation. But if co-workers have made it a habit to go “cubicle-hopping” most of the working day, there is a problem. Oftentimes, employees will not do the “cubicle-hopping” method since it is too obvious but would take frequent and long lunch breaks, coffee breaks, smoke breaks or snack breaks instead. It is common sense that such procrastinator’s practices are counter-productive so management must keep a tight rein on the times given to employees for their breaks.

Noisy co-workers are sure to distract other employees from their jobs. Not only are such noisy colleagues irritating, they also tend to foster a chaotic, loud, unprofessional atmosphere. This kind of employees must therefore be taught to be considerate and sensitive to other’s feelings and emotions. We Filipinos tend to be more forgiving and less vocal of this kind of employees because such is our nature so it is up to the management to discipline such employees. Do not believe the reasoning that it is their normal voice because mature people with some brains and discernment can teach themselves to lower their voices. It is a different case, however, if such loud voice is their only level of voice that they use even when gossiping, telling someone a secret, or, if they are Catholics, confessing to the priest. Professional help will be needed which may be is beyond a manager’s capability.

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