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10 Ways to Stop Employees from Wasting Their Valuable Time

10 Ways to Stop Employees from Wasting Their Valuable Time

More than 60 percent of workers have admitted to wasting up to an hour of time every workday. There are a variety of reasons that this happens, and some of them are inadvertently caused by the tools that they are given to perform their job. After all, even if someone is actively working on an assigned task, this does not mean that time is not being wasted by a less than desirable setup. The good news is that there are numerous ways to reduce time waste, ranging from keeping employees focused on their job to eliminating work-related time suckers.

1. Keep Meetings Short

The typical meeting is twice as long as it needs to be, and this causes 91 percent of attendees to end up daydreaming instead of focusing on the topics at hand. Therefore, it is critical to make your meetings a more realistic length, and you also need to stop inviting people who do not absolutely need to be there. Take a moment to think about mandatory team meetings and the people who actually attend them. If someone is going to be in a meeting who will not gain any useful information to fulfill their role, then they should not be forced to attend. This combined with shorter meetings will minimize wasted time and help boost productivity.

2. Invest in Proper Tools

The software and other tools that you provide your employees with can either help them excel or drastically hinder their performance. For example, if you are using an outdated point of sale machine, your employees may end up being forced to waste time on getting everything to run properly. On the other hand, modern iOS and Android POS setups such as those offered by mSteamPOS.com are designed specifically to be simple yet powerful tools that anyone can utilize.

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3. Have Notification Free Times

The typical office environment causes employees to spend a whopping 28 percent of their day reading and responding to emails. Although this is a good way to share information, being constantly plugged into emails can actually be the root cause of a lot of wasted time. This is because people tend to automatically respond to each new notification that they receive, whether it is for an email or a comment on their latest Facebook status update. To help combat this problem, you can designate certain notification free times during the workday. Having everyone close their inbox and turn off the notification sound for an hour or so at a time will enable them to pay closer attention to other tasks.

4. Consider Changing Your Schedule Parameters

Have you ever had a specific task to complete in one day that you knew you could finish in four hours but waited until after lunch to focus on? The truth is that many people are motivated by deadlines, and they will also waste any extra time that they receive. To remove this issue, you may wish to consider changing your schedule parameters to encourage speedy and accurate work. When it comes down to it, if people could go home early if their work was performed in a satisfactory manner, many of them would stop wasting so much time. If you actually need to get eight hours out of everyone, you could consider offering rewards for meeting certain faster deadlines.

5. Implement Several Short Breaks into the Day

Surveys have shown that the majority of workers can only focus for one hour or less at a time, so it actually makes sense to offer a five minute break every hour to help purposefully concentrate wasted time. In other words, allowing your employees to goof off for the last five minutes of every hour should help them stay more on task throughout the rest of the day.

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6. Install a Social Media Blocker

Installing a social media blocker can help reduce wastefulness. However, if you leave the blocker in place all the time, employees will simply turn to their cellphones or personal laptops to get their social media fix. A good compromise is to turn the social media blocker off during scheduled breaks or to install a blocker that allows you to input specific time variables. This will give workers some flexibility but will also instill the message that most of their day needs to be productive instead of wasteful.

7. Create a Training Culture

Surveys have shown that approximately 40 percent of employers do not place a major emphasis on training. This is one of the biggest mistakes that your company can make, especially if you want to reduce wasted time on the clock. Consider for a moment how inefficient employees tend to be when they do not have the necessary training to attend to all of their daily tasks. Not only does this reduce productivity but it also causes job satisfaction to plummet. As a result, even well-trained employees will suffer due to the actions of those around them, and your company will lose more time finding replacement employees. You can avoid these problems by creating a training culture.

8. Provide Solid Instructions for Each Task

Most people want to do a good job, but this becomes very difficult if they are not given good enough instructions. In fact, spending a few minutes giving a thorough overview of how a task needs to be completed can end up saving you tons of wasted time in the long run. Keep in mind that each employee has different needs when it comes to instructions. Therefore, repeat instructions when it is necessary and allow other employees to take the ball and run with it after they have exhibited a high level of competency in the desired area.

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9. Tie Goals and Timely Completion into a Bonus Structure

It has been proven that a realistic goal and bonus structure can boost productivity and reduce time waste, so this is definitely something that companies of all types should consider implementing. One study by the Harvard Business School found that quarterly bonuses are more effective than annual ones, and you may even want to look into switching to a monthly structure to get the best results.

10. Utilize Vacation Time and Flextime to Minimize Burnout

Professional burnout can happen for a variety of reasons, ranging from repetitive tasks to constantly working long hours. The good news is that vacation time and flextime can be used to help prevent burnout from occurring. Essentially, you need to make sure that each of your employees has a break every so often because this will be good for their mental and physical health, and it will also make them waste less time when they are on the clock.

Now that you have a better grasp of how to prevent employees from wasting time, it is also wise to give them time management tips that they can put to work in every aspect of their life. Always remember that the training, breaks, bonuses and other tools that you put in place can be instrumental in reducing wasted time and improving employee morale.

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Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Holly Chavez

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Last Updated on July 16, 2019

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

7 Powerful Habits To Win In Office Politics

Office politics – a taboo word for some people. It’s a pervasive thing at the workplace.

In its simplest form, workplace politics is simply about the differences between people at work; differences in opinions, conflicts of interests are often manifested as office politics. It all goes down to human communications and relationships.

There is no need to be afraid of office politics. Top performers are those who have mastered the art of winning in office politics. Below are 7 good habits to help you win at the workplace:

1. Be Aware You Have a Choice

The most common reactions to politics at work are either fight or flight. It’s normal human reaction for survival in the wild, back in the prehistoric days when we were still hunter-gatherers.

Sure, the office is a modern jungle, but it takes more than just instinctive reactions to win in office politics. Instinctive fight reactions will only cause more resistance to whatever you are trying to achieve; while instinctive flight reactions only label you as a pushover that people can easily take for granted. Neither options are appealing for healthy career growth.

Winning requires you to consciously choose your reactions to the situation. Recognize that no matter how bad the circumstances, you have a choice in choosing how you feel and react. So how do you choose? This bring us to the next point…

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2. Know What You Are Trying to Achieve

When conflicts happen, it’s very easy to be sucked into tunnel-vision and focus on immediate differences. That’s a self-defeating approach. Chances are, you’ll only invite more resistance by focusing on differences in people’s positions or opinions.

The way to mitigate this without looking like you’re fighting to emerge as a winner in this conflict is to focus on the business objectives. In the light of what’s best for the business, discuss the pros and cons of each option. Eventually, everyone wants the business to be successful; if the business don’t win, then nobody in the organization wins.

It’s much easier for one to eat the humble pie and back off when they realize the chosen approach is best for the business.

By learning to steer the discussion in this direction, you will learn to disengage from petty differences and position yourself as someone who is interested in getting things done. Your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is mature, strategic and can be entrusted with bigger responsibilities.

3. Focus on Your Circle of Influence

At work, there are often issues which we have very little control over. It’s not uncommon to find corporate policies, client demands or boss mandates which affects your personal interests.

Gossiping and complaining are common responses to these events that we cannot control. But think about it, other than that short term emotional outlet, what tangible results do gossiping really accomplish? In most instances, none.

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Instead of feeling victimized and angry about the situation, focus on the things that you can do to influence the situation — your circle of influence. This is a very empowering technique to overcome the feeling of helplessness. It removes the victimized feeling and also allows others to see you as someone who knows how to operate within given constraints.

You may not be able to change or decide on the eventual outcome but, you can walk away knowing that you have done the best within the given circumstances.

Constraints are all around in the workplace; with this approach, your boss will also come to appreciate you as someone who is understanding and positive.

4. Don’t Take Sides

In office politics, it is possible to find yourself stuck in between two power figures who are at odds with each other. You find yourself being thrown around while they try to outwit each other and defend their own position; all at the expense of you getting the job done. You can’t get them to agree on a common decision for a project, and neither of them want to take ownership of issues; they’re too afraid they’ll get stabbed in the back for any mishaps.

In cases like this, focus on the business objectives and don’t take side with either of them – even if you like one better than the other. Place them on a common communication platform and ensure open communications among all parties, so that no one can claim “I didn’t say that”.

By not taking sides, you’ll help to direct conflict resolution in an objective manner. You’ll also build trust with both parties. That’ll help to keep the engagements constructive and focus on business objectives.

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5. Don’t Get Personal

In office politics, you’ll get angry with people. It happens. There will be times when you feel the urge to give that person a piece of your mind and teach him a lesson. Don’t.

People tend to remember moments when they were humiliated or insulted. Even if you win this argument and get to feel really good about it for now, you’ll pay the price later when you need help from this person. What goes around comes around, especially at the workplace.

To win in the office, you’ll want to build a network of allies which you can tap into. The last thing you want during a crisis or an opportunity is to have someone screw you up because they harbor ill-intentions towards you – all because you’d enjoyed a brief moment of emotional outburst at their expense.

Another reason to hold back your temper is your career advancement. Increasingly, organizations are using 360 degree reviews to promote someone. Even if you are a star performer, your boss will have to fight a political uphill battle if other managers or peers see you as someone who is difficult to work with. The last thing you’ll want is to make it difficult for your boss to champion you for a promotion.

6. Seek to Understand, Before Being Understood

The reason people feel unjustified is because they felt misunderstood. Instinctively, we are more interested in getting the others to understand us than to understand them first. Top people managers and business leaders have learned to suppress this urge.

Surprisingly, seeking to understand is a very disarming technique. Once the other party feels that you understand where he/she is coming from, they will feel less defensive and be open to understand you in return. This sets the stage for open communications to arrive at a solution that both parties can accept.

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Trying to arrive at a solution without first having this understanding is very difficult – there’s little trust and too much second-guessing.

7. Think Win-Win

As mentioned upfront, political conflicts happen because of conflicting interests. Perhaps due to our schooling, we are taught that to win, someone else needs to lose. Conversely, we are afraid to let someone else win, because it implies losing for us.

In business and work, that doesn’t have to be the case.

Learn to think in terms of “how can we both win out of this situation?” This requires that you first understand the other party’s perspective and what’s in it for him.

Next, understand what’s in it for you. Strive to seek out a resolution that is acceptable and beneficial to both parties. Doing this will ensure that everyone truly commit to the agreed resolution and will not pay only lip-service to it.

People simply don’t like to lose. You may get away with win-lose tactics once or twice but very soon, you’ll find yourself without allies in the workplace.

Thinking win-win is an enduring strategy that builds allies and help you win in the long term.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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