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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 For example, if you are using an outdated point of sale machine, your employees may end up being forced to waste time on getting everything to run properly.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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Published on September 17, 2018

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

17 Ways to Ace Your Next Phone Interview And Land the Job You Deserve

There is one thing standing in the way of you and the job of your dreams: a phone interview. The screening interview is an opportunity for companies to narrow the list of presumably qualified applicants and determine who merits a closer look.

So many candidates exclude themselves from the phone interview by being unprepared or by failing to take this screening session seriously. A phone interview should not block you from living the life you have always imagined.

Here are 17 tips to help you ace your next one:

1. Clear the deck.

If you are reading this blog, you are likely busier than you would prefer or even imagine. Even when you schedule or accept phone interviews, they are likely sandwiched between meetings.

To show up fully present, energized and engaged, I recommend you clear the deck and give yourself at least an hour of uninterrupted time before and 30 minutes following the interview.

You can use the time to mentally prepare, develop a list of questions, rehearse answers to likely questions and ensure you are comfortable and ready for the interview.

2. Look the part.

It is no secret that we perform better when we look and feel the part. If you have a phone interview, dress up for the interview, if dressing up is comfortable and allows you to put your best foot forward.

Even though you will likely do the interview from home or a private location, be sure you are dressed professionally. This will allow you to be fully engaged and present.

In the event, the interviewer asks to connect with you via Zoom, Google Hangout or Skype, you will be prepared.

3. Resend your resume and cover letter prior to the call.

As a courtesy, resend your resume and cover letter prior to your screening interview. You never know if the person interviewing you has had a busy day or if a schedule change forced him or her to work from home rather than the office where the individual has access to their files.

There have been many times in my career where a last-minute change or a mix-up with support staff has left me scrambling at the last minute to find a candidate’s resume. It is quite embarrassing to misplace a resume and ask the interviewee to resubmit it.

You can save the interviewer the trouble and earn extra points by resending both documents in advance of your call. A simple message will suffice, such as “I am looking forward to speaking with you in an hour, and I am resending my resume to ensure it is at the top of your inbox.”

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4. Research the interviewer.

Once your interview is scheduled, be sure to research the person facilitating it.

You will want to Google the person and check their social media accounts. When you research the interviewer, try to get a sense of the individual’s personal and professional interests.

Once you identify those interests, acknowledge them in the interview, but do not dwell on them, because you do not want to make the interviewer uncomfortable. Follow his or her lead. If the interviewer indulges your questions or comments, by all means, continue the conversation.

I am always impressed when someone I am meeting with takes the opportunity to learn something about me ahead of time. This projects interest, which is important in my line of work.

5. Research the company.

In addition to researching the interviewer, be sure to research the company.

Ask people in your network if they know anyone who works or has worked for the organization in question. Conduct a Google search on the company, and be mindful to look beyond the first page of the search query.

If there are yelp reviews on the company, be careful to review those and look for trends as well as how recent the reviews were posted. While more recent reviews are obviously cause for pause, older reviews – depending on their nature – could be problematic as well.

6. Check the staff listing or “About Us” section of the company’s website.

Part of your research into a company is assessing whether you know staff or board members who are connected with the company.

Most organizations list their staff or board members in the “About Us” or “Our Team” section of the website. Prior to a phone interview, check these sections to determine whether you know someone who works for the company. If you do, reach out to that person to request a phone interview to learn more about the company.

7. Remember interviewing is a two-way street.

As much as the company representative wants to learn about you as the interviewee, you will want to learn about the organization.

Try to ferret out information on the company, the job for which you are applying as well as the manager to whom you would report. You will also want to ask questions to assess the interview process.

Additionally, because culture is important and will permit or slow your ability to do your job, ask questions to assess company culture, such as “What do your employees say they like most about working for your organization?” “What do employees say they like least?” “What do you do to create and maintain a healthy workplace culture?”

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8. Develop questions prior to the interview.

Prior to your interview, develop a list of questions about the company, the position for which you are applying, growth opportunities in the company, the ideal candidate for the position, and so forth. This will save you the trouble of thinking of questions on the spot during the interview.

I have found that once I become nervous, it is a lot harder to come up with questions on the spot, and interviews can be anxiety-producing without preparation.

9. Stand during the interview.

I train leaders and, incidentally, graduate students to become spokespersons.

I recommend that they stand during media interviews. I find that it helps the person speaking to project better, and it reduces the urge to get too comfortable in an interview setting and say something that could be too informal.

Similarly, I recommend interviewees stand for at least a portion of their phone interview.

10. Allow the interviewer to talk.

While it is essential you ask questions during an interview, you should not dominate the conversation.

Most people love talking about themselves and the company they represent, and it is your job as the interviewee to walk a fine line between allowing the interviewer to talk and interspersing questions when and where appropriate.

I am not suggesting you remain silent – you want the interviewer to learn about you; but you should ensure that the interviewer has ample opportunity to do what most people do best: talk about themselves and their work.

11. Refrain from multitasking.

We all live hurried lives, and most of us have to-do lists that are impossible to complete.

When we have multiple due dates and obligations, it is typical to want to avail oneself of every seemingly free moment of time.

When conducting or participating in a phone interview, be as present as possible. This means refraining from multitasking, which could mean responding to emails, text messages or social media messages. It could mean researching the company during the interview.

Whatever multitasking means for you, simply do not do it, especially during a screening interview.

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12. Conduct the phone interview in a place where there is minimal noise.

A common thread throughout this post has been that most of us live busy lives. So, it is natural to be on the go.

If you have the luxury of conducting a phone interview from home or a private office where there is minimal noise, do so. You may also rent a co-working space or ask a friend if you can borrow his or her office.

Whatever you do, select a place where there is minimal noise and distraction. The person interviewing you should not have to strain to hear what you are saying or compete with ambient noises.

When I am interviewing a candidate and competing with background noise, I grow frustrated and my focus can shift from getting to know the person to silencing the noise. Do not force your interviewer to choose.

13. Be punctual.

Do not leave the interviewer waiting. This is both rude and unprofessional, and it may count against you.

If you are able to follow my earlier advice and not schedule meetings within an hour of your phone interview, you should have no time being prompt for your discussion.

If you foresee that you will be late, be sure to give the interviewer a heads-up at least 15-20 minutes prior to the start of the call.

14. Focus on how you can and will help.

Let’s face it: people are naturally self-interested.

When you walk into an interview focused on what you can bring and how you can solve a hiring manager’s problems, you will set yourself and your candidacy apart.

Think about the challenges you could potentially solve and then share how your joining the team will benefit the company, not just you.

15. Take the interview seriously.

Do not assume you will have an opportunity to meet face to face with company representatives. Do not discount the weight that may be placed on phone interviews.

I once applied for a position on the East Coast while living on the West Coast. While my first interview was face to face, my interview with one senior leader was over the phone. I walked into the interview thinking it would be less intense than it was.

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From the moment the leader got on the phone with me, I was on my toes. I had to quickly recalibrate to handle the intensity of the questions lobbed on me.

To this day, more than six years later, that phone interview remains one of the most difficult interviews I have ever had. Fortunately for me, I was offered the job, but the experience still stands out as a learning lesson.

16. Send a thank-you note.

Kindness is underrated. We live in a society where most people are overscheduled and overbooked.

When faced with intense pressure, it can be easy to underestimate the role of kindness. But when someone shares a portion of the day with you by granting you an interview, you owe it to that individual and to yourself to send a thank-you note following the interview.

The note can be via email, a standard letter or a card. So few people do this that those who do stand out.

Become an individual who remembers this gesture of kindness and professional courtesy.

17. Be positive.

Energy really is contagious. If you don’t believe me, consider locking yourself in a room for one hour with people are upset. By the time you leave the room, you will be upset right along with them. It is natural to mirror the other person even if you do not realize you are doing it.

During your next phone interview, mirror positivity, both about the position, the company and most importantly, your skill sets. The interviewer will pick up on your energy and positivity and that will reflect favorably.

I cannot tell you how many times I have interviewed candidates who communicated no excitement or enthusiasm. Getting through the interview was difficult, not to mention, I kept thinking about what it would be like to work with the person daily.

Being positive not only helps you feel better, it helps the person interviewing you as well.

If you have read this list and want to add other tips, please tweet the link to this article and include the point you believe I missed. Use the hashtag #AceIt when you reach out.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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