Why do Employees Procrastinate? What Are the Outcomes?
There are many reasons why employees procrastinate at workplace. It could be unwillingness to take additional work responsibility, fear of failure, other priorities, difficulty in completing tasks, being perfectionist, or laziness.
All these procrastination reasons result in work delay, missed deadlines, stress, frustration, annoyed managers, unhappy clients, and a lot more. It is not wrong to claim that procrastination problems become major reasons for low levels of team productivity, no appreciation and low employee morale.
Procrastination is an attitudinal condition which, sometimes, becomes difficult for individual employees to push back. However, HR people can help employees to overcome procrastination at work. HR can help employees by giving right guidance, staying in touch constantly, sharing regular feedback and helping them prioritize their tasks.
Before discussing the solution to this problem, let us take a quick look at what doesn’t work when handling procrastinating issues.
Putting Work Pressure and Giving Strict Deadlines
It is important to ‘Go easy’ in such situations. Putting more work pressure on the procrastinators might stress them. Of course, nagging anyone over and over again to meet work targets is not a good idea. It might cause resistance contributing more towards procrastination patterns.
Instead, it is advised to adopt an easy-going and strategic approach to deal with the situation.
Avoid Giving Commands
Read these two sentences louder:
Sentence 1: ‘You have to finish this task by tomorrow.’
Sentence 2: ‘I would like you to start working on this task today itself, so that you can finish it in-time.’
Did you notice the difference?
You would probably find the difference in the tones of these sentences. The first sentence is a strict command whereas the latter one shows a polite suggestion.
Remember, being bossy and domineering do not work well in every situation. And therefore it is necessary to understand that commanding someone over work issues could do more harm than good. Commands given by managers overburden team members and lower their morale.
It shows the manager does not have understanding to realize procrastinator’s problems. However, asking a team member to initiate a task and share its progress reports seems to be a better approach than commanding.
Ways to Overcome Procrastination at Work
Taking too many tasks at once can trouble you.
Whether you’re a perfectionist or you’re behaving lazy, taking responsibility of doing all the tasks at once is not a great thing. Avoid getting into all-or-nothing approach. Go slow with each task. Pick one task at a time, work it out and deliver. Pick second task only when you are completely over with the first one.
Divide your time into different slots.
Before you start working (or I should rather say before you procrastinate), go through your work calendar, list down all the important tasks for the day and divide time for each one of them. Make sure you keep few extra minutes in each time slot to cover the backlog.
Prioritize the important tasks.
If you are unable to decide the priority of each task assigned to you, do not hesitate in taking help from your manager or peers. Make sure you prioritize your work and devote enough time to complete it before jumping on anything new.
Focus on starting work rather than finishing it.
If you’ll dream of finishing a task without initiating, it will become too difficult for you to cope up with the situation.
Ask yourself “When can you start?” Depending upon your work schedule, decide a particular time to initiate a new task.
HR people must recommend managers to share feedback with employees regularly.
Yes, this is something really important!
If managers stay in touch with their team members and constantly take updates on the projects, there would be very less chances of backlog.
Don’t be bothered with imperfect start.
Being a perfectionist is really impressive. But sometimes, it works against the gravity.
Sometimes, giving an imperfect start to a particular task or project is just normal. For example: Let’s assume your boss has asked you to design 5 email templates in a day. You know it will be difficult for you to complete the task in a day. Also, you’re facing few technical challenges to design a perfect template.
In such a situation, running away from work or procrastinating won’t help you. Instead, it is wiser to create rough drafts of the templates (while not designing a perfect one) and share with your manager. Ask him/ her to share the feedback and then make necessary changes. You can also discuss the matter with your coworkers and consider their inputs to finish the task.
So, it is very clear that giving imperfect results is any day a better option than procrastinating, and not doing anything at all.
Take breaks at regular intervals.
Keep yourself motivated by visiting cafeteria or sports room at your work place. Chat with your friends or do anything that energizes you. Regain energy and start working again.
Go easy with unpleasant tasks
Facing challenges in completing a specific task is nothing new. Go easy and don’t stress yourself. Choose the best time of your day to pick such tasks so that you can give 100% of your input.
Managers need to be well-trained to realize procrastination signs in their team members. They should take initiatives and support employees in overcoming procrastination. Developing a culture to share regular feedback and conducting surveys to evaluate their challenges – can definitely help in preventing procrastination problems.
Remember…. If a person is willing to work, he/ she can easily overcome procrastination problems because it is an attitudinal condition and not a habit.