My wife and I recently got together with some colleagues of mine, all of them working in Human Resources, and we found ourselves in an interesting conversation; working with slackers. I know it sounds pretty fun to talk about work on a Friday night, but hey, I guess we are just passionate about our profession! Besides, several of the stories were pretty entertaining and everyone had a few to tell.
The problem is that these situations are not that funny when you are experiencing them first hand on a busy Monday morning. Most of us are workers. We show up at work to contribute, so we know what type of workload can be accomplished in a day. We take on additional tasks to help out, are often assigned special assignments, and manage to get everything done with a smile. So when others are on Facebook, standing around the coffee pot, taking their daily rotation of never-ending lunch/bathroom/smoke/drink/snack breaks, or just plain old visiting, many of us begin to wonder. Exactly why are you being paid? What service do you provide the company? How do you continue to exist here? And why I am I stuck helping you get “caught up” again?
Many top talented individuals will finally say something, as protocol dictates, to their direct manager. Too often, the response given to this hard worker’s complaint is, “He has been here a long time…” or, the empty promise that “something will be done.” As your talent suffers under the weight of their workload and that of your equally compensated tenured slacker, it is inevitable that something will give.
The real point of this post is to ask, Why? Why do we keep these non-working employees around? I mean, if there are performance measures in place, quarterly evaluations, or even something as simple as fifteen minute meetings to discuss performance, improvements and future goal-setting, why would ANY manager keep this slacker in their department? I don’t pretend to have all of the answers to that question, but I do think the biggest reason is that most of us are too nice. Too nice to confront the individual about their work production, too nice to ask why they were late to work again, too nice to investigate why the entire morning was spent in Jill Doe’s office wasting both of their time, too nice to communicate that the two hour lunch every Thursday for a haircut is unacceptable when the rest of us get our hair cut on Saturday. I think you get the point.
In my opinion, in today’s highly competitive and fast-paced social environment, businesses cannot afford to continue to compensate these individuals anymore. Not only are they costing the company financially, the cost to the morale of the other workers can be silently even more devastating. There are too many hard working individuals available today that want a chance, not just for a job but for a career. There are too many graduating seniors with stellar grades, a great work history, and a fresh attitude that could come in and make an impact instead of allowing Sammy Slacker to soak up your compensation dollars in exchange for nearly nothing.
Look, I am all for employee coaching. The last thing I would want to do is let someone go in times like these. But if coaching, performance meetings and reviews are not sending the message then it is time to move on. It doesn’t matter that you have known Sammy a long time or that he attends the same social functions; business is business. Period. It is time to take back your compensation budget and use it wisely! Even if he is the CEO’s nephew. Well, maybe not, that one could be a tricky one to pull off.