4 Ways to Make Sure Your Workers Are Actually Working American companies spend more than $750 billion paying people for work they're not doing. Use these four easy strategies to improve productivity.

By Dan S. Kennedy

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In his book No B.S. Ruthless Management of People & Profits, business coach and consultant Dan S. Kennedy presents a straightforward assessment of the real relationship between employers and their employees, and dares you to take action. In this edited excerpt, the author explains why your employees should never believe they have any privacy at work.

I'm not at all in favor of Big Brother watching me in my private affairs and personal life, so I certainly understand other people objecting to such invasion of their privacy. But note the words personal life. Personal life occurs during personal time in personal space.

In the workplace, people need to grasp that they're there to work; they have no right to expect privacy. Whatever they're doing is your business as long as they're doing it at your business on your business's clock. According to a study reported at Salary.com, American companies spend more than $750 billion paying people for work they're not doing. Whatever share of that is coming out of your pocket is too much.

In the workplace, Big Brother has to watch. There are four ways to accomplish this.

1. Use technology.

There are plenty of service, software and equipment providers you can find to implement every suggestion I'm about to make. Find them and use them.

You can zip in to any of your employees' computers at any time from any location and monitor what's being done with it at that precise moment in real time. You can also access recorded histories of where the computer's user has traveled, the sites they visited and emails sent. Such things can even be resurrected after they've been deleted. You can track Internet usage in your company by location, office, department and individual employee, and by day, hour and minute.

You can also install video and audio surveillance systems that can record everything and that you can access from any remote location via your laptop and watch and listen in real time. You can also install GPS tracking devices on company vehicles to track salespeople, installers, delivery drivers, and the like who are out in the field.

Here's a secret: Your good, honest, productive employees hate the bad, dishonest, unproductive slugs. The good ones are thrilled when real enforcement with real teeth occurs. It doesn't make the good ones unhappy. Only the bad ones.

If you choose to, you can know who's doing what, when, where, and how; whether or not they're complying with your policies, procedures, sales scripts, installation instructions; and how they're using your assets and your time minute by minute. If you don't choose to, sorry, but you're a chump.

2. Employ human snoopers.

One practical approach to take is organized, consistent "mystery shopping." There are professionals who can mystery shop your stores, offices, practices or showrooms; trade show exhibits; or any other place of business. They'll play prospect and call in, they'll visit, they'll pose as customers and buy. Such services are available simple and cheap, or sophisticated and expensive but worth it.

You also need to "raid" your employees' work spaces when they aren't there. At least once a month, invest a Saturday morning in carefully searching some of your employees' work spaces. In doing this myself, I've found hidden, long-overdue work, resumes made on my copier and being sent out with my postage and unanswered complaints from customers.

3. Let the good mice, pardon the pun, rat out the bad mice.

At my suggestion, a client of mine with several offices, several stores and several restaurants set up a toll-free number for employees to rat out underperforming or badly performing employees safely and anonymously. They were promised no attempts would be made to determine who called the number. In the first six months, reports to this anonymous tip line led to catching one employee stealing merchandise from the store on an almost daily basis, another spitting and even putting dirt from the floor in customers' meals, and a clerical employee who was copying the office's customer and lead files every week and selling them to a competitor for cash. To be fair, the owner had to sort through bogus reports of misconduct left by spiteful employees just seeking revenge against others. But what he discovered is that good, honest, hard-working employees deeply resent bad employees' bad behavior, want to see them caught and removed from the workplace, and will eagerly rat them out if they can do so in secrecy.

4. Actually be there and manage your business (something of a radical concept these days).

A lot of business owners seem more interested in being everywhere but at their business, doing everything but managing it. But if you have employees, you have to accept the responsibilities that come with them. Leadership, management and supervision. Further, it's impossible to really know what's going on in a business if you're never or rarely there. You just can't beat what Tom Peters called MBWA: management by walking around. Listening in. Joining in and doing. Seeing and being seen.

In all businesses, it's useful for the owner to occasionally do a bit of all the work, so they know what it takes, can't be easily fooled, and so everybody knows they know. Time at the office is also wisely and profitably used for human snooping, too. For example, every owner should randomly and periodically snatch all incoming mail, open it and examine it themselves before anybody else gets to it. Same with a day's emails. Or randomly take an hour or two to answer the phones and actually hear from customers. This is how you keep tabs on what's really going on. Actually, this is the only way to keep tabs on what's really going on!

Dan S. Kennedy

Author, Strategic Advisor, Consultant, and Business Coach

DAN S. KENNEDY is a strategic advisor, consultant, business coach, and author of the popular No B.S. book series. He directly influences more than one million business owners annually. 

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