Why employees are late, miss deadlines and do personal things at work


Employees tend to leave work early, are skeptical of innovations and ignore corporate events – these are markers of a decline in involvement. In this article we will tell you how to keep the team sharp.

A top manager of a large and successful logistics company decided to leave after seven years of work: “Last year I went to the office for only a couple of hours a day. What was I to do there? I set up all the processes, everything worked fine without me. There were no new tasks or interesting projects from the management. I wasn’t even in the mood to do anything. I decided that I had to leave and look for a company that I could be useful to”, he explained.

For the manager, everything turned out quite well – he took a new career step. However the company lost a valuable employee who did a lot for the business.

To avoid such losses, managers must learn to recognize the markers of declining employee engagement. Let’s consider the main ones.

Marker №1: Employees often miss deadlines 

Often, deadlines are missed due to a lack of specialists. However, if the staff is manned, and the deadlines continue to be disrupted, it is worth considering: perhaps the employees do not realize the importance of working for the overall result. Hold a meeting with the team of the lagging unit. Analyze business processes, for example, arrange a brainstorm – and work on the bugs. Each member of the team must regain a sense of comradeship and realize the significance of their own contribution to the common cause.

The management of a railroad equipment repair company challenged the economic department to develop a new cost accounting policy in the view of a merger with another company within the shortest timeframe. A month later, it turned out that the policy not only was not formed nor even there were no preliminary developments. The director held a meeting with the economic block employees and realized they had not correlated the scale of the task with their own capabilities. He helped employees restructure their activities – create a working group, distribute roles, and take into account interim results. Among other things, and this is very important, he talked about how the completion of the task will affect the overall process of combining several assets. The specialists realized that the improvement of business indicators directly depends on them, and they got involved in the work.

Marker №2: Employees constantly cross-check tasks with their job descriptions

Start with a private conversation. As often as possible, talk to negative people about how their activity and initiative can affect career growth. Talk about the relationship between performance and KPI, give more freedom by offering options on how to complete tasks. At the same time, focus not on how employees do the work, but on why they do it. A common goal and personal influence on the overall result again come to the fore here.

Marker № 3. There are less and less candidates for leadership positions in the company

Define the company’s strategic goals. After that, ask yourself: what kind of leaders do you need, what skills do you want them to have and for what business directions. Look for promising specialists within the company. To do this, you can, for example, use the Hogan test which helps to determine the potential of employees. Ask candidates: “Do you want to take one of the key positions in the company in the future?” Those who have all the chances for this should be sent to training. Soon you will notice an increase in engagement, not only among selected professionals, but also among their colleagues.

We have a talent pool training program in our company. We invited 1st and 2nd level deputy directors who have a desire to learn and grow within their business unit or group of companies to participate in it. The creation of a personnel reserve is supervised by the central department for work with personnel. HRs conduct surveys and research during and after educational programs. The results show that having a perspective and specific subject training increases employee engagement.

Marker № 4. Employees often violate the working hours – they are late and leave early

First of all, find out the reasons for this behavior. It may turn out that those who like to leave early are simply not involved in the work processes. In this case, make a clear schedule for completing tasks. In the number of tasks for each employee, include those that are really interesting to them.

Another reason is that people do not feel the value of their work because of its routine – the constant repetition of the same assignments so make sure to adjust their loading. Sometimes the very fact that a colleague told you about his problems radically changes his attitude to the duties.

Marker № 5. Employees show little interest in what is happening in the company

Employees are reluctant to participate in corporate events, show reluctance to communicate, distance themselves and remain silent during general discussions. Create questionnaires and conduct surveys. You can ask colleagues:

  • whether they participated in the last two corporate events;
  • whether you liked these activities and why;
  • would they like to participate in the next corporate event or organize one;
  • whether they feel comfortable around colleagues;
  • would they like the format of events to change, and if so, in what way;
  • would they like events to be organized not only for the company as a unit but also for individual departments.

An analysis of the responses may show that employees do not feel like a team, and this breeds toxic moods. Use joint business activities and socialization tools. For example, use informal communications to find those who have hobbies and interesting interests that can captivate others.

In our company, we have united adherents of online games by creating a league of e-sportsmen. Over time, this initiative has rallied more than 700 employees from different business units. Every year we sum up the results of the eSports project. Creating an internal community of employees with a common interest has greatly increased engagement.

Marker № 6. Employees often shift the blame for their miscalculations to others

You often hear such phrases from employees as: they didn’t tell me, they didn’t give me information, they didn’t answer the letter, etc. Work out a system for assessing the status of work and summarizing. It is important that it results in a culture based on a proactive approach to any task. This approach is well illustrated by a quote from one famous movie: “I am not interested in why not. I’m interested in what you did to make it yes.”

Marker № 7. The company has a high staff turnover

Communicate with those who have decided to leave. Recurring reasons for dismissals are at the root of the problem. Once you identify them, it becomes easier to plan actions to increase engagement and stop the loss of talent.

A new head of department at a large retail company faces a staff loss and an atmosphere of oppression within the workforce. He conducted exit interviews with departing employees and found out that they were generally not satisfied with the salary level. He also learned that the division hadn’t had a salary increase in a long time and compared it to the market average. It turned out that the company lagged behind the general trend of wage increases. The head organized a stage-by-stage revision of the remuneration of department’s all specialists. This inspired people, many abandoned plans to quit.

Marker № 8. Employees spend more than 30% of their time procrastinating or doing other things

Not everyone who takes breaks is weakly involved in the work. If an employee is doing well, but sometimes switches to something that helps him stay in a resourceful state, do not interfere.

Pay attention to those who are not up to the task. Review their workload, schedule work, and talk about personal discipline. It may turn out that a person is not at all interested in what he has to do, and therefore he switches to anything. If we are not talking about an incorrigible slacker, try to help.

Marker № 9. You have to put in more effort than before to get from your subordinates the results you want 

There is one “but” here – a problem with involvement can only be stated if employees do not have more tasks. In the opposite situation, it’s not about people at all, you simply have to control the execution of work more often, since there are more of them.

If engagement did suffer, analyze what actions and events could negatively affect it. The reasons can be external and internal. An example of an external reason is a change in top management followed by rumors about the upcoming staff cuts and other drastic changes. An example of an internal one is a careless statement: for example, you praised one person, although the success of the task depended on many. After finding out the reasons for the drop in engagement, try to correct the situation: hold a meeting, dispel rumors, eliminate innuendoes and answer all the questions that have arisen in the team.

Marker № 10. Employees became skeptical about everything new, in particular to changes in work processes

A simple rule will help to cope with this problem: always involve colleagues in the discussion of upcoming changes, and do not announce something new in an ultimatum form. Employees need to feel informed, connected, and therefore involved.

Example: Employees in one of our business units asked for a new dining area in the office. The old one had a kettle, a microwave, the necessary furniture, but people wanted to completely change the design and rebuild the space.

In order to make a general decision about what the kitchen-dining room will be like and level out possible criticism of the results of the reconstruction, the HR service organized a survey. After that, they assembled a working group that considered ideas for changes. The design project, developed by one of the employees, was chosen jointly. The team accepted the changes with a bang, as the wishes of the people were taken into account.

According to the consulting firm Bain, organizations with highly engaged employees earn two and a half times more profit than their competitors. Conversely, when engagement is low, costs rise and sales fall. Gallup Institute research has shown that engaged employees are 21% more productive, 41% less likely to make mistakes at work, and 48% less likely to suffer accidents at work. Therefore, it is so important to record alarming bells and analyze them. After all, it happens that just one demotivated unit begins to influence other departments. A domino effect is triggered: the level of engagement falls throughout the company.