How Much is Employee “Slacking” Costing Your Company?

December 8th, 2010 by

The December issue of HR Magazine published by the Society for Human Resource Management is full of information about employee slackers, can they be saved and how much “slacking” costs your company.    Several things really stood out as I read through the various articles:
1) Employee time waste is apparently a given- one survey by estimates that the typical worker wastes about 2 hours a day- and the cost is a staggering $759 billion a year nationwide!    Those two hours a day of wasted time sound about right to me-  after years of  creating project plans I estimate that an employee has about 32 productive hours in any given week.

2) While there are employees who are just plain lazy the majority of employees are slacking off because they don’t feel engaged, they don’t think what they do matters, the rewards offered doesn’t match their “intrinsic” motivations or they have become demoralized because “co-workers slack off without consequences”.   These are all areas that good HR practices can address and improve on.

3)  High productivity is not about having people work long hours or rewarding employees for having enough natural talent to do enough to look good when they know they could do better.  A highly productive worker is a person working at their peak performance, feeling like a contributor and being rewarded for behaviors that convey “passion and dedication rather than simply natural talent”.  (Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck  (Balantine Books, 2007) Dr. Dweck, a professor at  Stanford University and expert on motivation,  believes that because the tendency is to reward natural talent rather than hard work in this country we have trained an entire generation to give up when the going gets tough.  Her research also shows that companies that reward smarts and natural talent more than commitment create a culture of “slackerism”.  As employers we want to hire smart people but we also want those smart people to work hard.

So wondering how much employee slacking is costing your company? Take the total number of employees in your company x 2 hours x average hourly rate= a rough estimate of cost of employee slacking off.    Is that number enough of a motivation to make  2011  the year you get going on those HR programs and best practice and start reducing this huge waste of your most important asset- your employees?

To learn more about improving motivation – both yours and your employees go to  I highly recommend Dr. Dweck’s book.

To learn more about hiring and retaining the best employees download the free KPA webinar “How to Hire the Right Employees” at

References: HR Magazine, December 2010, “Taking Up The Slack” by Adrienne Fox and “Slacker Management” by Ben Leichtling

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One Response to “How Much is Employee “Slacking” Costing Your Company?”

  1. Tamara Lischer says:

    Very interesting and thought-provoking blog! I wonder if many company executives account for this loss of company time and money.

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