5 Kinds of Lazy Employees and How to Handle Them

Not everybody who needs a paycheck is enthusiastic about work.

learn more about John Boitnott

By John Boitnott

Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury | Getty Images

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

If you're an entrepreneur in charge of a growing business, you eventually will be required to hire employees. Ideally, these people will take some of the workload off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on meeting with clients and growing the company. Unfortunately, things don't always go as planned. That worker who showed such promise during the job interview or employee training process can easily turn into be something else entirely.

Someone who is lazy is a disastrously bad employee. It is almost impossible to motivate someone who just doesn't want to work, leaving a business owner with no other choice but to discipline and dismiss. Here are some types of lazy employees who can harm your business.

1. The Vanisher.

The vanisher seems to go invisible at odd times without explanation. It could be two-hour lunches or mysteriously lengthy breaks. Perhaps the person simply calls in sick on a day when a big project is due, or shows up late for work on the day of an important morning meeting. Whatever the behavior, a vanisher always lets you down and forces other team members to pick up the slack.

How to deal with them: Vanishers are among the hardest employees to discipline because their "offenses" often occur in areas with poorly defined regulations. Set clearly-defined time expectations for vanishers and enforce them consistently.

Related: 9 Things Managers Do That Make Good Employees Quit

2. The Victim.

The victim is the work equivalent of the student who claims "the dog ate my homework" in school. There are hundreds of excuses for workers to call in late, and the victim knows them all. From flat tires on the way in to work to sick pets or children, the victim is often not afraid to make things up to get out of work responsibilities. The victim may even block a position from being filled for months while only showing up to work as often as is necessary to keep earning a paycheck.

How to deal with them: Document this type of behavior early on and don't stop. A first or second excuse, whether it's car trouble or sickness, can be convincing, but document it anyway. By the time a fifth or seventh excuse is thrown at you, you want to make sure you've documented it all so the pattern is apparent and doesn't continue that long before you need to take action.

Related: The 9 Worst Mistakes You Can Ever Make at Work

3. The Procrastinator.

Everyone is guilty of procrastinating from time to time, but the procrastinator turns it into an art. If you have a major project, this person waits until the last minute to do his part of the work, leaving everyone else involved frustrated and anxious. On a daily-operations basis, the procrastinator simply pushes work off to another day while he or she wastes time on non-essential tasks. The procrastinator puts unnecessary stress on the rest of the team and jeopardizes every project with each deadline.

How to deal with them: Be strict with scheduling where the procrastinator is concerned. Set certain deadlines or quick meetings for them every so often that will force them to make progress and know they are accountable. Even daily check-ins may be appropriate in order to stay on top of a project's status.

Related: How Successful People Overcome Toxic Bosses

4. The Delegator.

The delegator is an interesting type of lazy person, primarily because he or she puts so much effort into avoiding work. Without even being in a supervisory position, the delegator constantly pushes work off on everyone else. Many overly career-conscious people will do this. The delegator can force morale into a downward spiral and risk your reputation, especially if he or she eventually begins pushing work off on clients.

How to deal with them: Check in regularly with the delegator and keep tabs on the size of their workload (but try to avoid micromanagement). Assign work to them specifically by saying, "I'm giving you this project and you only." Call them on it and discipline them when they violate this.

Related: 6 Toxic Beliefs That Can Ruin Your Career

5. The Troublemaker.

Perhaps the most dangerous lazy worker is the troublemaker, who not only doesn't work, but spends time stirring up drama throughout the office. The troublemaker can often be seen wandering from desk to desk, gossiping about co-workers and engaging in casual chitchat. If they don't feel confident engaging others in conversation, they may instead conduct the same kind of drama-mongering through email or online. The troublemaker zaps the productivity of other workers in the office and even puts your business at risk of having confidential information exposed.

How to deal with them: These are some of the hardest people to deal with because they may not actually be breaking any rules, but are still somehow disturbing the work environment. Consider engaging with them more closely and being good to them. This is the old "keep your friends close and your enemies closer" philosophy. Communicate with the troublemaker to find out what their issues actually are. Stay close to them to potentially make them happier. If these efforts don't succeed or are just too exhausting, work on building a case to let them go.

Entrepreneurs often have little time for slacking in the office. When a team member engages in disruptive behavior or shirks duties, entrepreneurs must see it as the issue it is and take measures to do something about it. In some cases, speaking to the employee may help but all too often, the only solution is to replace the lazy employee with one who will be much more productive each day.

John Boitnott

Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Journalist, Digital Media Consultant and Investor

John Boitnott is a longtime digital media consultant and journalist living in San Francisco. He's written for Venturebeat, USA Today and FastCompany.

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

The Dark Side of Pay Transparency — And What to Do If You Find Out You're Being Underpaid
Thinking of a Career Change? Here Are 4 Steps You Can Take to Get There.
A Founder Who Bootstrapped Her Jewelry Business With Just $1,000 Now Sees 7-Figure Revenue Because She Knew Something About Her Customers Nobody Else Did
Everything You Need to Know About Franchise Law
Business News

Amazon Is Starting to Let Customers Know What Products Are Returned Often

The e-commerce giant has begun flagging certain items that were frequently sent back.

Business News

'I Don't Feel Like It's Unreasonable': A-List Actor Refused Service At Hotspot For Not Following Dress Code

Academy Award-winning actor Russell Crowe had quite the afternoon after trying to stop at a Japanese steakhouse in Melbourne, Australia following a game of tennis.

Business News

'Fake Work' Was 'Exposed' By Layoffs At Google And Meta, Says Former PayPal Executive

Keith Rabois, an early PayPal executive, said that large tech companies needed to shed some workers.

Business News

Carnival Cruise Wants Passengers to Have Fun in the Sun — But Do This, and You'll Get Burned With a New $500 Fee

The cruise line's updated contract follows a spate of unruly guest behavior across the tourism industry.

Starting a Business

90% of Online Businesses Fail in Just 4 Months. You Can Avoid the Same Fate By Using These Strategies.

It's not catastrophizing when we think about potential failure; it's in fact a chance for any business to precisely see any outcome and prepare in advance.

Business News

'Crying Northwestern Kid' Turned His Viral Fan Moment Into a Successful Harvard Admissions Essay. He Says the Experience Taught Him About Empathy.

Six years ago, Phillips was watching No. 8 Northwestern take on No. 1 Gonzaga during March Madness when he became a meme.