Your staff may well show up to work on time every day (albeit, perhaps virtually at the moment, thanks to Coronavirus!), but how much of their workday is actually spent working?  

The chances are, very few of your staff put in a full day’s work. Almost 90% of staff say that they waste time on the job every day. For the most part, it’s no more than an hour. However, more than a quarter of people in the UK have admitted to wasting in excess of two hours over the course of a standard workday 

The Facts 

Whether staff are stopping to check their phones, surfing the net or just chit-chatting with coworkers, it’s clear from the statistics that follow that this has a large impact on both the employer and to the economy. 

  • 89% of people admit to wasting time at work.  
  • 90% of people daydream during meetings. 
  • On average, 13 million hours are wasted in meetings per year.  
  • 35% of people spend more than one hour on Facebook every day, which costs the UK economy around £25 billion per year (that’s an average of £824 per employee). 

What do your Staff Spend too Much Time Doing? 

On average, employees waste 63 hours per month on distractions (that’s 759 hours per year!) including 

  • Chatty colleagues or a noisy workplace.  
  • Gazing out of the window. 
  • Social media.
  • Poor internet connection and IT issues – Britons lose 5.5 days of work per year, on average, to slow computers.  
  • The weather and temperature.  
  • Online shopping.
  • Uncomfortable chairs.  
  • Emails – they take up 50% of staff time and only 14% are useful to work. 

With these obvious pain points in mind, I decided to do a little Google search to find the top time-wasting issues that employers want to find answers for, and this is what I found when I searched using the phrase ‘staff member spends too much time’. 


staff member spends too much time


In the Bathroom 

Your employees are adults and should not need to ask your permission to take toilet breaks – and believe me, I’m talking from experience when I say that some employers expect this of their staff! 

However, there is an unwritten etiquette when it comes to taking loo breaks at work. As long as they aren’t spending heaps of time, multiple times a day in there, your staff should be able to leave their stations whenever they need to without it being questioned.   

With this being said, there are those who do tend to spend longer in the loo each day than you may feel is acceptable. It’s important to bear in mind that this could be for a perfectly legitimate reason. Perhaps your employee has a medical issue that warrants their frequent trips to the bathroom.  

On the other hand, it may also be a ploy to kill some time if they’re bored and want to push the day along a little.  

Then, there’s the very real possibility that they are struggling with their work or something else that isn’t work-related, and are worried about speaking to you about it.  

Whatever their reasons, you need to address the situation if it is becoming problematic. But be careful with your approach. The best way to get to the bottom of the issue is to take them to one side in a friendly and informal way and ask them if everything is okay as you’ve noticed the irregular amount of time that they have been spending in the bathroom.  

This may well prompt them to open up to you if there is something wrong. On the other hand, if they are just trying to kill time, you’ve highlighted to them that they’ve been noticed, and this might just be enough to warn them off of their antics.  

On their Phones 

Phones are here to stay, there’s no denying that. What’s more, many employees find that having their phone available to them at work actually helps them to get their work done more efficiently, especially in the remote world we’re living in today. Mobile devices at work can be a double-edged sword though since the distraction of texting and social media is right there next to you. 

It’s a difficult topic of conversation because on the one hand, allowing staff to use their phones during their workday promotes a healthy work-life balance (not to mention that it also promotes trust amongst your workforce). On the other, it offers a big distraction to staff who may not be very self-disciplined.  

The best way to combat the overuse of phones during the workday is to have a staple phone policy in place to ensure that both you and your staff know what is expected of them where mobile devices are concerned. Include a set of concise guidelines, highlighting what is and is not acceptable when using phones in the workplace and be sure to set out a clear disciplinary action for any staff members who don’t follow the policy.  

Time Spent Socialising or Talking 

This is a hard one – staff are, of course, going to talk to one another throughout the day. The relationships that your employees have with their coworkers are vital to your workplace culture. It’s also healthy for staff to have a little chit-chat to break up the day.  

However, there is such a thing as excessive socialising. If your staff are sat talking about non-work-related topics more than they are getting work done, then you probably have an issue.  

The last thing that you want to do is to discourage friendships amongst your staff. The better they all get along, the nicer your work environment will be and the stronger your team will become. But it’s important to set ground rules where the chatting is concerned 

The best way to prevent staff from talking too much when they’re meant to be working is to lead by example. Make it clear to your employees that you encourage them having the odd chin wag between or during work, but that it’s equally important for them to complete their work with little to no distraction.  

If you’re finding that it’s hard to keep a lid on the natter, perhaps you can try introducing an area where staff can go to have a break and chat for a few minutes without disturbing others who are trying to work. Just be sure that your staff know that their time will be monitored to ensure that they aren’t abusing the facility.  

On the Internet 

This one’s a clincher – employees spend anything between one and three hours a day surfing the internet for personal reasons while at work. Staff have been known to shop, do banking, pay bills and chat to friends on social media, to name a few.  

Most people will wait until they are on a break to perform these non-work-related tasks, and if they do happen to steal a few minutes here and there during the day, it’s likely that they make the time up elsewhere. However, there is a percentage of staff who abuse the privilege of internet use at work.  

Being confident in placing your trust in your employees is very important to the day to day running of your business, as you don’t have the time to be monitoring everything they do and search on their work computer. But a good way to tackle the overuse of non-work-related Googling is to have an internet use policy in place which makes it clear to staff that you have the ability to check up on what they’re using their time to do online.  

Want to find out how to harness your employees’ focus on their work and limit the time that they spend procrastinating? We’ve got some great tips waiting for you!