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Are Your Employees Really At Work?

Posted by NEHRA  July 27, 2009 09:00 AM

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To some, this may seem like a silly question. Of course my employees are working. They are here! However, many of you know exactly what Iím talking about--employees who show up most days for work, but are not really at work. They have mentally checked out of your organization, and chances are you donít even know it.

How many of these types of people do you have residing in your organization?

The Drifters - These are the people who drift in and out of work quietly. It may be lunchtime before you even realize that these employees havenít shown up, nor have they called in sick. Thatís because these people have made themselves invisible, and youíve been so busy that youíve failed to notice.

Minimalists Ė The term ďminimalistĒ refers to anything that is spare or stripped to its essentials. In the art world, minimalism is in a class by itself. People often grow to appreciate this unique type of work. However, this is usually not the case in the world of work.

Minimalists are all too common. These are the people in organizations who are doing as little as it takes to get by. There is not much to say about these employees, except they usually take up a lot of space. Hopefully at some point, someone in your organization recognizes that the ďless is moreĒ theory at work isnít quite adding up and does something about it.

Work Horses - These are the people who have been running like the Energizer Bunny. They are moving full speed ahead, and they rarely stop to recharge. However, eventually even the bunny runs out of energy. Work horses will slow down, and at some point they will stop working. Some recover, while others search for greener pastures to repair the damage they have done to their systems.

If you are thinking there is not much you can do about any of these situations, then perhaps itís time for you to rethink your work.

For the rest of you, here are some tips on how to re-engage and re-energize your employees so they are present at work.

Look in the Mirror - What type of example are you setting? Are you the manager who never leaves work until the sun goes down? Do you expect the same of those who work for you?

Start by getting a life. Find an activity that forces you to leave the office at a decent hour. Join a gym, take an art class, volunteer. Just do something! Chances are you will become more efficient and may even get more done by compacting your day. Then set new boundaries for your staff. Reward them for results, not face time.

Rejuvenate - Take time out of your workday to step away from your desk. Encourage your staff to do the same. For some people, that may mean meditating. For others, a long walk around the block will do the trick.

Reshuffle the Deck - It seems like we need to do more today with less resources. However, at what point is enough, enough? It is hard to do your best work when you know that youíll never get to the finish line. Even worse, you may get more work piled onto your desk if you do manage to do so.

Step back and look at the way work is being distributed among your team. Is it time to consider hiring temporary help to get things under control? Are some employees asked to do considerably more work than others? Reallocate the workload so team members can come back into balance.

Take the time to look around your workplace and evaluate the true commitment of people you call employees. While showing up for work is commendable, it is not enough to sustain an organization. Then be prepared to work toward creating an organization where workers are present in mind, body, and soul.

Author Biography:

Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions, and has been helping companies align their people assets with their business goals. She is considered an expert in generational workforce issues. She can be reached at 413-582-1840 or via email at

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About NEHRA - The Voice of HR Featuring articles and resources for Human Resources / HR professional and hiring managers from the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA).

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