3 Bad Habits in the Workplace & How to Avoid Them

How many employees do you have that wile away their time at work?

Today’s post is brought to you by my friends at SocialMonsters.org. Do you have any of these bad habits? I do!
When employers think about dangerous habits in the workplace the typical concerns that come to mind are substance abuse, negligent OSHA compliance, poor food handling, or not wearing safety equipment. In reality, there are many forms of dangerous habits that can sneak up in the work environment and cost an employer money, time or both. Here are three bad habits you might not be thinking about and positive changes that you can make.

Wasting Time

Inefficiency is a form of distraction which can lead to costly mistakes. During your one-on-one reviews, ask managers how efficiently they think work is getting done. Or maybe the numbers say it all in terms of team, division, or company performance. Are performance indicators rising or sliding? If production numbers aren’t being hit, there are too many bugs in the code, or the product isn’t selling in the stores, these are signs that you may have an inefficient workforce.
Inefficiency can happen for a host of reasons. Watch for signs that people are on social media, spending too much time talking to each other, or doing things that have nothing to do with work. Better, if you company is big enough, ask your IT department to run computer usage reports monthly and see how and where employees are spending their time. You might have a problem with management being too lax or checked out themselves. You could also need to examine whether or not managers have competing demands or too much job scope to effectively manage and oversee employees. Consider installing security cameras over cubicles, workspaces, and coffee rooms and analyze who might be the biggest time-wasting offender or who is contributing to others distraction.

Bad Driving Habits

If you have a sales or field organization, chances are that problems could be occurring on the road in company vehicles. Texting and driving is one of the most serious concerns. Your eyes are off the road for an average of five seconds while texting, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. That may not sound like a troubling amount of time, but If you’re driving 55 mph, that’s enough time to drive 100 yards blindfolded.
Work with management to develop a policy and practice that all mobile employees use a safe driving app while on the road. SafeDrive is a good choice because it rewards users with points for staying off their phone while moving at over 6 mph. They can later trade those points for discounts off products. Take advantage of your team’s competitive spirit and have them compete with each other for who can get the most points. Encourage managers to publicly commend employees who earn the most points in a quarter to further encourage safe driving.

Pressure to Perform

Do you have a pay for performance culture? If so you might be rewarding more than just performance. Employees who feel an intense pressure to perform might get kudos for working long nights or all weekend but as an HR manager, remember the tradeoffs of a culture that encourages workaholics. Employees who routinely feel the only way to keep their job is to work endlessly are more like to make costly mistakes, suffer from fatigue, develop mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, heath issues such as high blood pressure, sleep disorders, and weight gain, and suffer devastating personal issues at home such as marital problems.
In addition to posting an OSHA poster in a highly visible location, consider the following more creative options for educating employees about other habits that might not be conducive behavior to a productive workplace such as:

  • Encourage that safety in the workplace is a discussion item in quarterly staff meetings; ask teams to brainstorm possible solutions to the habits listed above or other habits that might also be harmful. Hold a contest for the winning suggestion by team and reward the group with a lunch paid for by the company or another perk.
  • Create an anonymous “whistleblower” box (either electronic or hard copy) where employees can report concerns about safety issues without fear of retribution.
  • Develop lunch-and-learn trainings for each topic above and any others employees designate as prevalent and bring employees to participate in panel discussions to share best practices with a broader employee base. Make sure employees who demonstrate good safety practices, participate in trainings and panels, and who make helpful suggestions have their efforts rewarded in their annual performance review.

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