How to Stop Bad Habits Creeping into a Workforce

Managers everywhere are struggling with employee bad habits negatively affecting their team’s work. Trying to fix them seems like a challenging task, but there are many simple solutions we can do to improve the situation. We look at the most common employee bad habits that occur and how to stop them.

We cover a number of employee bad habits and how to fix them, to improve leadership and your employees.

Bad habits because of poor performance

Showing up late for work

Punctuality is key in the workplace. It’s professional to arrive on time because it shows that you’re ready to tackle what needs to be done for the day. Always being late on the other hand shows that you are unprepared for work.

More than that, arriving late to meetings also causes problems for the rest of the team who got there on time. This leads to issues with respect and disgruntled co-workers, which may contribute to conflict within the team in the long run.

Some people might brush it off and not confront the employee directly about the problem. However, Entrepreneur advises managers to address the tardiness issue head on. If you’ve noticed that one of your employees has been arriving late consecutively for the past week, tell them you’ve noticed.

This will give them the chance to explain themselves and it will also show your team that you value punctuality.

Cutting corners to get the job done

Often, employees try to cut corners in order to do the job faster, and at the expense of quality. These bad habits may compromise the team in the long run. In the transport industry, for example, truck drivers who try to deliver loads faster and exhibit bad driving habits are actually less efficient in the long run.

Because of this, some transport companies are tackling this problem through fuel tracking apps. A post by Verizon Connect details how a fuel tracking app can help fleet companies ensure that their drivers are driving efficiently.

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Cutting out harsh driving habits can reduce fuel bills by up to 33%. A fuel app can also alert a driver when they are exhibiting wasteful driving habits so they can correct it immediately. This means that the employee has no excuse for letting bad habits get out of control. Various types of tracker applications are being used not just by transport companies but in other industries as well.

Bad habits due to lack of motivation

Lack of motivation is another common problem in the work place. One of the worst employee habits is the use of social media during work hours, especially on an office device.

An article by Business Insider notes that many companies frown upon this practice, and it could be one of the contributors to getting an employee fired. Oftentimes these employees are unmotivated to finish their work and will rather spend their time scrolling through Facebook or gossiping with their co-workers.

Communicate through metrics

A tactic that helps solve this in the workplace is to communicate using metrics. For example, the gravity of certain bad habits becomes clearer to employees if they are able to see how much it costs the company.

It becomes easier to visualise how important a person’s work and time is in relation to the company if they are presented with figures showing their worth.

Give your employees agency over issues

Another solution is to foster a more consultative, bottom-up workplace. If an employee comes to you looking for guidance on the next steps of a certain project, you can ask “what would you suggest we do?”

Allowing employees to craft their own solutions to problems gives ownership to the issue at hand. People will be more motivated to work if they are involved in the decision-making process and understand the context behind the decision.

Bad habits due to burnout

People in high-intensity jobs like law enforcement and medicine are the most prone to burnout. In truth, however, it can happen to anyone. Some triggers include long hours, extreme stress, and office conflict.

If your employees are experiencing burnout, this means your team is accomplishing less in the same amount of time they usually accomplish more.

Recognise the signs

The first step towards finding a solution is to know what you are looking for. Psychologist Ellen Hendricksen lists the three big signs of burnout, namely: emotional exhaustion, depersonalisation and losing the ability to focus.

People who experience burnout feel like they are on the brink of a mental, physical, and emotional collapse. If you have an inkling that your employees are suffering from burnout, it’s time to rethink how things are being done in the workplace.

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Individual consultations for employee feedback

It’s good to have regular meetings with each of your employees. This is your chance to understand if they are sleeping and eating right (a few contributors to burnout) and if they have nourishing activities outside the office.

At the same time, you can also use this opportunity for providing feedback on their work. Our article on employee feedback gives tips on how to properly give good feedback. One of the most important points raised by the article is to use employee feedback to understand the context of a situation.

If you’ve heard from another co-worker that a certain employee has been uncooperative lately, this is your chance to hear their side of the story.

Promote life outside of the office

For people with burnout, it’s important to identify nourishing activities outside of work that will help replenish them. Managers can play their part by organising out-of-office activities like sports nights or museum visits where the team enjoys each other’s company outside of a work setting.

At the same time, it’s good to encourage your employees to take up new hobbies that you think would be beneficial for them.

In Summary

Stopping employee bad habits starts with recognising what they are. This is why it’s very helpful to immerse yourself in the office culture to see if the workplace is actually a contributor to these issues.

Changing these habits take time and is a continuous effort. However, it’s important for managers to remember that these seemingly small changes will be the building blocks of a better, more efficient company in the future.


About the Author

Emilia Therese is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about office culture, business, and psychology. She hopes that her experience working in different companies since she graduated will help business owners improve their own workforces. In her spare time, she enjoys photography and reading classical literature.

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