30 Ways Your Company Is Wasting Time

Is Your Workplace a Productivity Obstacle Course?

Does your company waste your employees’ time?

Good leaders remove the obstacles from the path of their team.

Similarly, good companies remove the productivity barriers preventing their workers from getting their jobs done.

Does you company clear the way?

Or does it constantly throw new challenges that impede productivity?

30 Ways Your Company Is Wasting Time

Here are 30 Ways that your company is wasting your employees’ time:

  1. Unnecessary Meetings – Give your employees the “Right to Decline” meetings that they feel they do not need to attend. You will quickly find out which meetings are worthwhile.
  2. Wasted Training – Do you put your employees through worthless training? If your employees would learn more from YouTube, let them.
  3. Red Tape – Is your company constantly implementing new red tape? Policies that make no sense or impede progress? Instead, try Blue Tape.
  4. Expense Report Hurdles – I encountered one employee who had spent hours upon hours in audit because they had 2 client lunches in one day. How much did that cost the company?
  5. Blocking Websites and Tools – Many companies are paranoid about the websites their employees visit. The try to block they ones they “think” should not be visited. More often than preventing trouble, this prevents your employees from getting their job done.
  6. Providing Inadequate Tools – Times have changed. You cannot fail to provide your employees with adequate tools to accomplish their work. They will bring their own tools, if the ones provided aren’t getting the job done.
  7. Preventing Workers from Working Remote – Get with the times. Preventing workers from working remote when possible is archaic. There are entire companies that are virtual. And worse, the companies that resist this are inconsistent in who they allow to flex. That doesn’t build company morale.
  8. Too Much Email – Do you fill up your employees’ email inboxes with unimportant mail? I observed one company send dozens of emails about a new snack machine policy. Really?
  9. Too Much Gossiping – Some would say that the employees are the ones wasting time gossiping. However, does your company bring the gossiping on itself? Bad leadership, secret information, and not doing what you say will lead employees to spend time at the water-cooler.
  10. Benefits That Are a Burden – Companies are moving more towards “employee directed” benefit plans that cause workers unneeded burden, stress, and effort. Better yet, tell employees that it is made that way for them.
  11. Unclear Directives – If you don’t clearly tell your employees what you want them to accomplish, it will be hard for them to get there. I have seen companies spend months (if not years) toiling towards a goal, only to find out they were going the wrong direction.
  12. Unclear Company Goals – What does “win against the competition” actually look like? If you don’t tell your employees what success looks like, how will their measure their progress?
  13. Too Many Rules. If you company rulebook looks like an encyclopedia, then you have too many rules.
  14. Sending Out a 20-page Policy When a 1-page Will Work – Does your company write 20-page legalese documents with words that need to be looked up in the dictionary? How about a 1-page document that says, “Don’t do this or you will be terminated.” Many of these “policies” could be 1 sentence.
  15. Meaningless Corporate Announcements – Stop force feeding employees information. Instead, set up self-service information sites.
  16. Spam in Your Corporate Email – How come I can keep ALL spam out of my personal email at home, but most companies still allow dozens into their employees’ accounts?
  17. Viruses In Your Network – Who let that thing in here? Really. Who let that virus in here? And of course, why weren’t we protected? Companies aren’t very productive when they are shut down for days because of a virus. Starts to make that IT “routine maintenance” look a little less daunting.
  18. Meetings That Last 4 hours – Many companies have an expense policy that won’t let employees spend more than $15 on lunch, but yet they can call wasteful meetings that cost thousands of dollars.
  19. Meetings With More Than 6 People – The next time your company has a meeting with 13 people in it, take the hourly rate of the employees and multiply by the meeting length. Then ask if the meeting was worth it. (Put #18 and #19 together for more fun!)
  20. Crappy Work Environment – “Crappy” is a technical term for a dirty, poorly constructed, poorly lit, and noisy work environment. Does this sound like your office space? Now, I am not saying you need a juice bar and miniature golf in the hallways, but get the best, most productive work environment that you can afford for your people.
  21. Insane Rules – Insane rules are ones that seem like some HR individual made them up just to mess with workers. See #3, except, these border on the insane. Every company has a few.
  22. Lies – Don’t lie to your employees. Either they will waste time with bad information or they will sit around talking about how evil the company is.
  23. Hiding Things – Think your employees don’t know the executives are sneaking away for an executive retreat? Think again. Don’t waste their time in gossiping. Tell them the truth.
  24. IT Downtime – How often does the network or email go down at your company? Why has this become acceptable at many companies?
  25. Not Listening to Those Doing the Job – Many companies waste time because they do not listen to their employees. This results in wasted effort, increased cost, and even employee turnover.
  26. Doing Things the Way They Have Always Done – “That is how our client pitches have always been done.” How’s that working for your today?
  27. Not Doing It Right the First Time – If you don’t do it right the first time, you’ll have to do it again. (If there is a next time for the company.)
  28. IT Issues – See 5, 8, 16, 17, and 24. Enough said.
  29. Wrong People – Does your company put people in positions that they don’t have skills for? Many companies resist addressing issues like this, however you wronged the individual when you put them in a position for which they were not qualified.
  30. Not Letting Things Fail – Companies get better when they learn from failure. However, many companies fear failure and punish those who do. Some are so afraid of failure, that they will keep failed initiatives going for years just so they don’t have to call them a failure.

Clear The Way

Some of these may sound silly, but they happen all the time.

Don’t block your employees productivity.

Don’t put up unnecessary obstacles and complications.

Get out of your employees’ way.

And let them get their job done.

Q: What obstacles does your company put in the way of its employees?

23 thoughts on “30 Ways Your Company Is Wasting Time

  1. Lack of excitement – falling to get the people involved excited and pump-up about a project for the most part, means there’s no reason to go that extra mile for it either.

  2. Lack of excitement – failing to get the people involved excited and pump-up about a project for the most part, means there’s no reason to go that extra mile for it either.

    1. @Abilene_Harper Abilene, great point. Often the success or failure of a project can be how it is presented. 🙂

  3. @TMNinja Failing to get the people involved excited about a project means wasting time and no reason to go that extra mile for it either.

  4. Craig,

    This list is something that should be posted on the walls of every corporate office in America. I can’t tell you the number of pointless meetings I’ve sat in on. I was in a meeting once where the marketing team discussed the air conditioner problems in the office for 30 minutes. It’s amazing how many pointless tangents they went off on.

  5. Red tape is something that I struggle with. As a security consultant there is a lot of red tape that I have to endorse as a risk mitigation. In my other role as an operations manager I know that red tape is hurting productivity in a lot of areas. There is a fine line to be found and it will always be a struggle to get the right mix.

    I wrote a piece about processes here that you might find interesting: http://staying.afloat.ca/2012/01/are-you-losing-your-mind-to-processes.html

    1. @Marjoleinvbm het gevoel-van is ook voor mensen in grote organisaties weggelegd als ze hun circle of influence uitbreiden. Fijne dag nog!

  6. Such relevant points and I am sure true for many, if not all organisations. I particularly like the idea of 1 page policies. Often policy writers try to ensure they don’t miss anything and therefore make the policy many pages long. However, I wonder, if a policy needs to go over one page whether it is too complicated, contains unnecesary information, or perhaps it needs to be separated into shorter, clearer policies. It would make the information much easier to find also, and ensure people are actually understanding and following the policies.

    1. @Abbie Allen Couldn’t agree more here Abbie. I recently dealt with a new corporate policy that was literally 21 pages long.

      When you boiled it down… it could have just said, “Don’t do…this!” 🙂

  7. Craig,

    Solid stuff!

    Constant organizational changes eat too much resources and energy. Also, people should be treated as people and be appreciated enough.

    When a company has happy and motivated workers, the productivity increases as well.



    1. @timokiander Right on. Too many companies try to “push” their employees.

      When the right answer is to “pull” them by keeping them happy and motivated. 🙂

  8. @myMendonan Thanks for the RT of this informative post. Hope your business steers clear of these 30 time-wasters. 🙂

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