How to Deal with Unproductive Employees and How to Motivate Them

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By Lisa Hutchinson

Topics: Hiring


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How_to_Deal_with_Unproductive_Employees_and_Motivate_Them.jpgEmployee productivity is a growing concern in the business world today. Study after study indicates employee productivity and engagement are closely linked to your company’s productivity. In turn, this influences your sales and your revenue. Higher productivity means higher revenue!

Employee productivity and engagement are also linked to greater worker happiness and lower turnover for your business. It’s clear you want and need productive, engaged employees working for you. So how can you get them?

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 The Unproductive Employee

Many managers believe some of their employees will slack off as soon as they can. They may wonder why their employees can’t get things done on time or why they won’t try harder.

Not every unproductive employee is actually a lazybones. Some of them need more guidance. Others need better tools. Still others are dealing with a mental or emotional block: they may be bored by the work you’re giving them.

Many employees report feeling bored or frustrated at work, which in turn lowers their productivity. There appears to be miscommunication between management and employees.

Dealing with Unproductive Employees

How can you deal with unproductive employees? It’s the big question on every manager and business owner’s mind these days. In the past, a manager might have believed it would be enough to suggest the employee might lose their job if they didn’t pull their weight.

In many cases, this doesn’t motivate the employee. In fact, it can make them disengage further. The best method for how to deal with unproductive employees is actually to motivate them.

Discipline may be needed in some cases, but not before you’ve tried alternative methods.

Ask Your Employees

Perhaps one of the easiest methods for how to deal with unproductive employees is to sit the employee down and ask them what’s going on. What do they need from you in order complete their work more effectively? Why aren’t they getting things done on time?

Some employees will tell you there’s too much work. Some might complain about co-workers who don’t pull their weight. The most common answers, however, involve things you can actually control: the tools provided, the training provided, challenges, appreciation, and even company policies.

Your employees can probably give you some insight into what they need to become more motivated and more productive.

Training and Tools

In some cases, your employees may be unmotivated because they don’t believe they can do their jobs effectively. Check in about the tools you’ve provided. Are there better tools on the market? If so, you could consider upgrading.

Training is another huge component of productivity. If you’re asking how to deal with unproductive employees, ask yourself what kind of training they’ve been provided. Do they know how to use the tools you’ve provided? Would learning an additional skill make them better at their jobs?

Creating Challenges (and Rewards)

Many employees become bored with their jobs over time. They become so good at what they’re doing they no longer feel challenged. Worse, they may feel unappreciated or undervalued if they don’t believe they’re getting the recognition and rewards they should.

Challenge your employees and offer them rewards. Sometimes, recognition is all it takes to motivate an unproductive employee.

Company Policies

You should also take a look at your company policies if you’re thinking about how to deal with unproductive employees. Company policies sometimes stand in the way of productivity. They may create unexpected trouble or add unnecessary steps to a process.

Think about a marketing staff member. Today, marketing departments must use social media. If your company has an outdated social media policy, it could stop your marketing staff from effectively doing their jobs. This leads to frustration, which leads to disengagement and, finally, a lack of productivity.

If you’ve been pondering different methods for how to deal with unproductive employees, take a look at those outlined here. You may find your solution.

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Lisa Hutchinson

I started with Liberty Staffing in 2004 as the Regional Business Manager of the London office. I have over 20 years of experience in the customer service and retail sectors, as well as leadership experience including Store Management, People Development and Recruiting. In 2016, our London location moved to a larger office in order to accommodate growth of our business, which included adding a Clerical Division.

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