10 Weirdest Productivity Killers And How To Avoid Them

17th August 2016

Whether hiding in the bathroom or catching forty winks in the stationary cupboard, some employees will do anything to avoid doing any actual work at work. While some distractions are okay, or sometimes necessary, you’d be surprised at the lengths to which people will go to avoid doing work.

Weird Things To Do Instead Of Working

CareerBuilder released a survey of the most common and weirdest productivity killers at work. The survey asked over 2,000 HR managers from businesses of all sizes in all manner of industries. They revealed a number of odd things employees have been caught doing when they should have been working.

In some of the more memorable cases, the employee was…

  • Taking a sponge bath in the bathroom sink
  • Trying to hypnotise other employees to stop them smoking
  • Visiting a tanning bed in lieu of making deliveries
  • Looking for a mail order bride
  • Drinking vodka and watching Netflix
  • Sabotaging another employee’s car tires
  • Sending “inappropriate” pictures to other employees
  • Searching Google images for cute kittens
  • Making a model plane
  • Printing pictures of animals, naming them after employees and hanging them around the office


Of the more mundane productivity killers, the survey participants said that mobile phones were responsible for over 50% of productivity reduction. The internet and good old fashioned water cooler gossip came in at second and third. The cost of all these distractions includes low staff morale, missed deadlines and of course, an ultimate loss in revenue.

Killing The Killers

Having a clear office policy on behaviour is the best way to slay the monsters of distraction. Monitoring internet activity and restricting mobile phone usage are easy ways to knock out the two biggest workplace distractions.

Establishing limits on meetings may seem restrictive, but it increases productivity and encourages employees in the meeting to focus on their objectives. Some businesses have also found that having a “no-meeting day” every week helps to keep productivity high by almost guaranteeing at least one whole day dedicated to work.

Being busy is not always the same as being productive. Without proper planning, you may find that your employees are busy doing things that don’t actually get you anywhere. Before undertaking big tasks or projects, make sure you have a plan and a structure to make sure that you hit deadlines and keep everyone on track.

Increasing Employee Engagement

Investing in employee engagement is a silver bullet in combating employees avoiding work. In the same way that employee engagement can help avoid staff pulling a “sickie”, it can also galvanise productivity at work. When employees feel invested, incentivised and rewarded, employees won’t even think about hiding in the bathroom stall.

There are many ways to increase employee engagement, including:

  • Communicate regularly when plans are made
  • Offer training and opportunities for growth
  • Reward creativity
  • Be open and flexible
  • Clearly define everyone’s expectations
  • Criticise constructively

Ultimately, employee engagement simply means realising that your people are just as valuable as your customers and you should treat them as such.