20 Fail-Proof Ways to Expose Lazy Employees

Monday, December 31, 2007 at 4:32pm by Site Administrator

If you have a lazy employee in your office, you could find yourself working overtime to make up for missed deadlines and wondering if you should give your lackluster worker either a little extra motivation or the pink slip. While some employees simply take longer to perform certain tasks and think things through, this list is devoted to exposing those employees who purposefully show up to work late, waste time on the Internet and skip assignments, all in an effort to shave minutes off their work day. If you’re through putting up with it, check out this list of 20 fail-proof ways to expose your lazy employees.

  1. Monitor their arrival and departure times: The easiest way to find out if your employee is deliberately trying to cut out time spent at the office is to monitor the exact times they show up to work in the mornings and duck out each evening. If they are arriving late and leaving significantly early each day, confront them, and ask if they will be willing to work out a new schedule or make up the time they’ve lost.
  2. Cameras: If you’re having trouble tracking the arrival and departure time of your employees, or if you want to see exactly what they’re up to when you leave the room, consider putting a hidden camera somewhere in the office. You’ll have hard evidence of any slacking off, but just remember to be reasonable. No one wants to be known as their office’s Michael Scott.
  3. Spectorsoft: If you have suspicions that your employees are playing on the Internet all day when they should be researching or typing up reports, install one of the spy software products from Spectorsoft onto their computers. These products will let you know who your office’s "worst offenders" are after analyzing which websites, chatrooms and keystrokes are used.
  4. Send in an undercover customer: If you’re worried about how your lazy employee treats your customers, send in a fake client to request information or schedule a meeting. Have the undercover customer report back to you, detailing the employee’s efforts to make he or she feels welcome, give the correct information and adequately promote your company’s image.
  5. Recruiting tests: Sometimes managers can expose a lazy employee during the recruiting process, saving them time and trouble down the road. This article describes how one hiring manager weeds out lazy workers by asking them to fill out two applications: one online before the interview, and another one during the interview. The manager ultimately "finds that people who skip the parts on the second application that they had previously filled out online, will eventually turn out to be lazy once hired."
  6. Monitor lunch hours: Just because you work through lunch each day, don’t expect your employees to consistently do the same; however, if you have one or two employees who make a habit out of strolling back into the office twenty minutes after their hour was up, you have reason to expose their negligence.
  7. Track them with a GPS system: Lazy employees love running work-related errands out of the office because it gives them more control over the way they spend their day. If, however, you suspect them of running non work-related errands, install a GPS tracking system on the company vehicle, which will help you in "catching employees shopping, working out at the gym or otherwise loafing while on the clock."
  8. Schedule meetings early in the day or late in the afternoon: Within reason, schedule a meeting every once in a while at the very beginning of the work day or sometime in the late afternoon. If your employee takes major issue with the scheduling but can’t provide a reason for his tardiness (or absence), you will have successfully exposed their laziness.
  9. Follow through with deadlines: By not enforcing deadlines, you give your employees the signal that it’s okay for them to procrastinate or turn in work late. Strictly follow through with deadlines, and hold employees accountable when they consistently fall behind. Document your efforts to remind them of deadlines, through email or by using the popular Monkey On Your Back tool, so that lazy workers can’t make up excuses.
  10. Demand doctor’s notes: When an employee calls in sick practically every week, start demanding doctor’s notes from workers who have used more than one or two sick days. Just be aware of the fake doctor’s notes that can be bought online to trick managers.
  11. Surf Logger: This "tiny add-on for Internet Explorer" records website history, so that you can track which sites your employees visit when they’re on the clock.
  12. Guardian Software: Guardian Software is an Internet monitoring tool marketed towards parents who want to control what their children do online. Managers can use the same product to effectively expose lazy employees by blocking certain websites, recording e-mails from Yahoo, AOL and other accounts, and even "captures and records keystrokes."
  13. Cyberspy: If your office is on a budget, download Cyberspy to find out what your employees are doing on their computers. Cyberspy even captures whole images of a website or document in case you can’t properly evaluate the content from the file name alone.
  14. Employee Loyalty Acid Test: If your employee isn’t performing his or her duties at your desired level, they could be planning to leave your company for another job. Give your employees this survey to gauge their company and job satisfaction.
  15. Employee loyalty evaluator: If handing out surveys seems too obvious, check out this article to more discreetly evaluate an employee’s loyalty.
  16. Motivate them: This post from Yahoo! Answers discusses the proper ways to motivate a lazy employee in order to gain positive results in the office. Give them a vested interest in the company’s success by talking to them in your free time, limiting harsh criticism and helping understand that their slow pace affects other workers.
  17. Tell your boss: AskMen.com publishes this article, entitled "How to Complain About a Colleague." Readers will find different ways to tell their supervisors about lazy employees without sounding like a tattle tale.
  18. Award productive employees: If you can, set up a merit-based rewards system in your office that grants raises, gift certificates, or other perks to your most productive employees. Lazy workers may be so apathetic that you won’t see any change in their performance, despite the added bonus.
  19. GPS-equip the company phone: While giving your employee a GPS-equipped company car might be way out of your budget, try investing in a company cell phone that comes with GPS. If you suspect your employee of leaving the office early, you might be able to catch them in the act with the GPS system.
  20. Fire them: If you’ve tried to confront your lazy employee but he or she continues to miss work and deadlines, set a precedent in your office by firing them. Let your other employees know that you won’t put up with laziness any longer.

Before spying on your employees, discuss any problems you have with their less than desirable work performance. Laziness could be a reflection of a much bigger issue at home or in the office, and the problem could be solved in a more amicable way. If, however, your employee continues to be lazy at work, use these tips and tools to expose their listless behavior.

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  1. Ugh! Who wants a lazy employee to begin with! How about just raising the bar and expectations. If they don’t perform, then they are out. Many companies don’t have the luxury of having employees who work to get a paycheck. I happen to need employees who are proud of what they do, committed, and want a career.

    Comment by Red Jello — December 31, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  2. Darth Vader thanks you for this list.

    Good lord how can a site even make a list like this? I would HOPE to be fired from a company that went to such extreme measures.

    PS: Posted from work. :)

    Comment by Big Brother — December 31, 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  3. Laura:

    Thank you for the common sense disclaimer at the end of your top 20 ways to weed out the lazy bums list. Sure having dead wood isn’t profitable, and spying on people “just in case” is popular these days, but indeed, innocent until proven guilty should be the default position, not vice-versa.

    Best wishes for a wonderful and safe Happy New Year’s Eve celebration.

    Anthony Kuhn

    Comment by Anthony Kuhn — December 31, 2007 @ 10:49 pm

  4. I do not agree at all with number 5. I hate filling out two applications that contain the same information. That is wasting time. Any manager knows that wasting time is not good time management.

    Most places that have made a request to me to fill out an extraneous second application will find that I have gone elsewhere for employment and I am about as far from a lazy employee as one can be. I generally do at least 145% what is required with 99.7% accuracy annually.

    Comment by Serena — January 1, 2008 @ 1:39 am

  5. This is borderline schizho!

    Comment by Bill — January 1, 2008 @ 2:00 am

  6. Interesting tips. I’d include “Hire better employees” and remind folks that before you do ANY of this stuff, you better check with your HR and/or legal department to make sure it’s legal, lest you get accused of harassment, and the lazy employee ends up with your job!

    Good tips though!

    Comment by Phil Gerbyshak — January 1, 2008 @ 6:15 am

  7. What a terrible collection of things to subject any human being too. If you need to implement absolutely any of these tips, you need to rethink your relationship with your staff.

    My alternative:
    - Treat people as you would like to be treated
    - Use respect for the human spirit
    - Address the issue
    - Agree a resolution

    You will be surprised that most people want to actually be heard and not treated as a commodity that can be abused

    Comment by David Linke — January 1, 2008 @ 12:43 pm

  8. Sounds like it was written by HR department the most useless people on the planet. If you want to get rid of the losers fire the entire HR department

    Comment by bill gates — January 2, 2008 @ 6:24 am

  9. Great post and great list Laura – but really coming at things from the wrong end I think! It assumes that the problem lies with the employee and not with the manager. In the majority of cases managers get the employees that they deserve – so I would really advise the manager to reflect on their own role in creating this problem employee.
    ‘Lazy’ is a label and labels rarely help. I train managers to notice the behaviours that they see that lead them to think that someone is lazy. I then encourage them to give feedback about the behaviours (arriving late, leaving early, personal e-mails, staring out the window for hours) and the impact that the behaviours have. ie ‘When you arrive late, leave early, stare out the window and spend hours on your personal e-mails I get frustrated because I can’t help thinking that you could get more done. I worry that you might get a reputation for laziness and that you won’t do as well as you could in your work here. Is there anything you can differently to avoid these concerns?
    I also train managers who know that they have a ‘disengaged’ employee to think about their own role in the employees lack of engagement. After all they are paid as a manager to ensure that people are productive! It is their problem – not the employees!
    Have they got them in a role where they can use their strengths?
    Have they clearly expressed the performance standards associated with the position in a way that the employee understands?
    Have they given feedback about the behaviours that cause concern?
    Have they offered to coach the employee in order to improve their performance?
    Only once all of these options have been explored should they consider your option 20.

    Comment by Mike Chitty — January 2, 2008 @ 12:26 pm

  10. Uhh, what’s the name of this company? I want to ensure that I don’t apply at this Neo-Nazi Fascist “company”!

    Comment by Owl — March 12, 2008 @ 12:45 am

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