Your Employees Aren't Really Doing Their Jobs -- How to Help

When tasks outside employees' normal workloads take up a majority of their work day, tensions can rise.

learn more about Heather R. Huhman

By Heather R. Huhman


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Employees are spending more and more time at work but less time doing the actual tasks they were hired to do The U.S. State Of Enterprise Work Report, a Workfront survey released in July, found that, of the 606 employees participating, the average work week was 45.1 hours.

Describing their typical work day, respondents said that they spent only 39 percent of it on primary duties.

Related: Menial Tasks Eat Up the Majority of the Workday for Most Employees

When tasks outside employees' normal workloads take up a majority of their work day, tensions can rise. And, although collaboration is certainly a huge part of the modern workplace, employers should step in, to ensure that employees aren't wasting valuable time, or feeling overworked:

1. Simplify the work process.

Employees can waste a lot of time cutting through red tape. Performing redundant steps in order to conform to someone else's process can be exhausting and frustrating. Companies should allow their team members a bit of freedom to follow through in a way that's most productive to them.

It's also crucial to check in and make sure employees are not making extra work for themselves. Recognize and suggest to employees the shortest amount of steps possible for each task. Some staffers may take each step literally; others may add a few extra steps to help their own individual process.

However, if it seems like people are taking too much time to wrap things up, check in to see if they're creating unnecessary complicated steps.

2. Reevaluate team responsibilities.

Even managers are spending time on tasks they shouldn't be doing, according to the State Of Work survey of 1,000 managers by ServiceNow. Managers in the survey said they spent at least 15 hours a week -- almost two days' worth -- on administrative duties. This imbalance creates an issue within the structure of the system and prevents leaders from completing strategic work.

Sit down with employees to see what duties they're completing every day. Look at what is actually part of their job description and what is being unnecessarily passed on to them due to a poorly structured work system. Create a newly-defined list of functions for each person based off these responses.

Related: For the Most Productive Workplace, Assign Employees the Work They Do Best

Many managers, however, don't have time to sit down to figure out what every employee is, should be and needs to be doing. If that's the case, try a habit-coaching tool, like, to keep employees accountable for tasks that matter, and incentivize them to keep on track.

3. Assess unrealistic goals.

Unrealistic goals may stress out employees, making them feel negative about their job. Workers want to do well and hit their goals, so any feelings they may have that they'll never reach them or don't have the tools to do so can create a negative work environment.

Wrike's October 2015 Work Management Study revealed that, out of 1,464 workers surveyed, 49 percent said they were unhappy with their jobs due to unrealistic goals, while 51 percent were even more discouraged with the prioritization of tasks.

Look at how well employees are hitting their goals. If it seems that they're being met but only after employees stay at work for 46 hours each week, those goals need reassessment. Have an open-door policy where each team member can feel comfortable discussing his or her concerns about goals.

Discuss management's expectations, but also encourage employees to express what they themselves believe can be done to help hit their goals without spending extra time at work.

Ignoring unrealistic goals can cost organizations some of their best employees.

4. Be realistic about talent needs.

Spending extra time at work because managers don't want to hire or are unaware of hiring needs is discouraging for current employees. Performing their own tasks on top of what another person should be doing can prove unnerving and tiring.

Related: 9 Ways to Manage Underperforming Employees

Look into how many extra hours are being logged at your company. How much extra time are employees spending at work? Is this happening only during busy weeks or is it a regular occurrence? If the normal work day structure is eight hours, and employees are staying 11 hours almost every day for weeks, the time to take another look at hiring is now

Heather R. Huhman

Career and Workplace Expert; Founder and President, Come Recommended

Waldorf, Md.-based Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager and president of Come Recommended, the PR solution for job search and HR tech companies. She writes about issues impacting the modern workplace.

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