The vast majority of workers admit to wasting at least some time at work every day. Even just a little wasted time can really add up when every employee in your staff wastes some time every single day. This wasted time can undermine the overall productivity of your company and impact the bottom line if left unchecked.

While the problem of wasted time has been around since the first employee was put on payroll, the ways to combat this problem have evolved. Rather than tightening the reins and making employees feel like they are living in a police state, you can lean on technology a little and try to see things from an employee perspective to combat the issue effectively.

Set Clear Expectations Every Day

When employees know what’s expected of them, they can get started right away and work at their own pace. This can help to mitigate any feelings of overwhelm or boredom that may be causing them to seek outside distractions. If you have HR software in place, you may be able to use goal setting options to assign tasks every day and allow employees to manage their own goals as they are completed.

Offer Flexibility and Time Off

Employees that are constantly trying to handle outside issues while on the clock are not only wasting labor time, they are also unfocused and likely stressed. One solution is to offer flexibility so that employees are able to manage their schedules in the most optimal way. Time off and scheduled breaks may also be instrumental in helping employees to strike a better balance between work and life.

Talk About Wasted Time

Speaking to the employees about how wasted time impacts the company and getting some feedback from employees about why time is being wasted is a very direct way to address the issue. Employees often have little idea how much wasted time truly affects companies. Just educating employees may help to minimize wasted time.

Feedback from employees about wasted time is also very important. In some cases, you may think that employees are wasting time socializing, when in reality they may be collaborating to accomplish tasks, speaking about challenges in the workplace, or brainstorming. Asking for feedback may also help you to figure out whether employees are feeling pressured by schedules, intimidated by workloads, or not challenged enough so that you can make changes.

Incentivize Productivity

Incentives and rewards for productivity can motivate employees to keep their focus on their work tasks. If employees can clearly see how they’ll benefit from avoiding distractions, they may put more energy towards their tasks. Set the bar high so that employees really have to stay on track to realize the rewards.

Penalize or Terminate Those Who Waste Too Much Time

Some employees will continue to waste time no matter how hard you work to keep them on task. These individuals aren’t self motivated and are bogging your company and your bottom line down! Work through the stages of discipline outlined in your company policies to give them a chance to change their ways, but terminate them if necessary to preserve your productivity and discourage other employees from wasting time.