Waste Reduction

The High Cost of Wasted Time

An employee spends a lot of time chatting with co-workers each morning. A job has to be redone because the blueprint wasn’t reviewed carefully. Time is wasted; but as an owner or manager, you overlook the situation because the employee is a good worker most of the time.

But have you ever considered how even a half hour of lost productivity each day can quickly add up? If you pay the chatty employee $20 per hour and the employee spends a half hour each morning drinking coffee and chatting with everyone, you can write off more than $2,500 per year in wages paid with no productivity to offset the cost. What is the value of the work that should have been completed in that half hour? Now, multiply both amounts by the number of co-workers who can’t work because they are listening to the chatty employee.

This calculation exercise drives home the importance of maintaining a dedicated, hard-working team of employees. Quite often, a company owner is quick to replace inefficient equipment to improve productivity, but does nothing about employees who are not working at full capacity.

The catch here is that keeping employees working at full capacity is a delicate task. It’s only natural to have human “downtime,” but there are ways to keep it at a minimum. New processes or the enforcement of systemized processes may eliminate certain problems, such as the rework because of a smudged blueprint. But it doesn’t solve everything.

While you may have a policy in place that is supposed to limit the conversation, there are employees who will ignore the rules. And although processes greatly reduce the risk of error, not every employee will follow the process each time. How do you control the situation?

Before you talk with the employee, review your options.

Is there another solution? Each morning, the daily work schedule could be reviewed during a 15-minute meeting over coffee and dougnuts. While the employees may not need to be told what tasks are next, maybe they do need a quick get-together to boost morale, review the day’s tasks, and start the day off right. What began as a solution to a talkative employee could become a source of motivation for everyone. The end of the meeting clearly defines the beginning of work, and the chatty person has had an opportunity to say something to everyone. In addition, the morning meeting may prevent reworks because the specifics of the day’s work are discussed.

A second option is to use an individual’s misuse of time as a learning tool for everyone. Schedule a company-wide meeting in which you address the cost of wasted time and ask for the employees’ help in determining time-stealers and possible corrective measures. Stress the cost of limited productivity and how it affects the bottom line, including the pay scale. Instead of pointing a finger, you are asking for their opinions and ideas—an approach that flatters the employees’ intelligence and willingness to help. It validates their position in the company.  

Another choice is talking over the situation with the employee on a one-to-one basis. This can be one of the most dreaded tasks of any owner or manager. If not handled diplomatically, the employee can have hurt feelings, become belligerent, or walk off the job.

Regularly scheduled manager/employee meetings help ensure that communication is two-way. If your management staff is always respectful, friendly, and open with the employees, then employees can handle the need some for performance improvement. A communicative relationship between employer and employee creates an atmosphere in which employees strive to do their best.

Remember that many times the employee doesn’t realize the performance is unsatisfactory. If a manager details the problem and the effects it has to the company, the employee is usually more than willing to change the behavior or work habit.  

To help you get started, we are giving you our 18 Steps to Individual Performance Improvement checklist absolutely FREE! Just click on the button below:



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If all else fails, you may have to terminate the employee even though you think he or she is a “nice person.” When an employee refuses to play a productive role in your company, you must sever the relationship to avoid immense costs.

To drive home the reality of lost time, the Holt team can provide you with worksheets that puts everyone to work at recognizing and solving their time issues.

Contact Holt Marketing and Management to improve your waste reduction today!