5 Signs the Employee Is Unproductive

5 Signs the Employee Is Unproductive

One of the key struggles for employers is ensuring that their employees are always working at their maximum efficiency level. Since micromanaging every single employee and overlooking all of their work is not usually possible, there are other methods that employers will need to use to determine employee productivity. One of the best ways of knowing which of your employees are slacking is by learning all the telltale signs of idle employees whose attention is focused on everything but their actual work.

So, how do unproductive workers give themselves away at work?

There are many different things that you can be on the lookout for when it comes to your employee's work, but these five signs are guaranteed to help you determine whether your employee's attention is drifting towards something not work-related - or even worse - that they are slacking their work hours.

1. Putting Out the Fires

While putting out fires or dealing with emergencies is not necessarily a bad thing, what normally happens with employees who are not focused on their work, is that they don't "have enough time to finish their tasks" or are constantly pushing the deadlines or waiting until the last minute to finish a task.

While there are busier periods during which your employees might be struggling with deadlines, that should not always be the case. As their manager, it is your job to know whether the tasks are indeed too much, or whether the staff has simply not been focusing as they should while at work.

In addition, monitoring employees' work will keep you from falling into the common trap of having an employee asking for a raise because of the workload, even though they are only pressed for time because of their disengagement from their duties.


The best solution for this is to use frequent briefings and sessions in which updates on each task and project must be given. This will help you ensure that everything is progressing as normal and that everyone is constantly engaged in their tasks. Another effective method is using employee monitoring software. Its reports will tell who is diligent and who only pretends to be.

2. Less Engaged During Meetings

Employees who are not focused on their work will usually not engage during meetings. The reason is that they will not have anything meaningful to add or more commonly, because they feel completely apathetic toward their jobs. Apathy can be one of the worst things for employers to deal with, as there are no proven ways for employers to make their employees care. However, there are a few solutions that you could try.


When in a meeting, try to directly engage with the employees you find are less involved. It shows them that you are paying attention to their engagement levels. You should also contact them for a wellness check after the meeting. Such follow-ups will help you determine the best options for dealing with the situation in the long term.

3. Poor Communication

Communication is an integral part of the workflow, and normally, your team will form bonds between themselves naturally. While it is absolutely normal for different people to have varying levels of being sociable, what is not normal is when an employee avoids communication or shows very poor communication when asked even the most basic questions about a project.

Poor communication is usually one of the biggest telltale signs that the employee in front of you is not focused on the task at hand, but rather their attention roams somewhere else.


Encouraging open communication in the workplace can really help establish better communication patterns and can help eliminate the need for awkward conversations and poor communication. If necessary, you can also arrange for communication training to take place. It will help your employees establish healthy grounds and ways to communicate with one another. It will also help make it all the more clear when an employee is not using their communication skills and engaging with a project or their work as they should be.

4. Lack of Recognizable Routines and Patterns

Especially if you have been working with the same team for a long time, you will most likely have noticed routines and patterns in their behaviors and work. If, for example, you have an employee who used to be really engaged in meetings but now never pays any attention to them, then you know that there has been a distinct change in their behavior. Similarly, if a usually good employee is letting deadlines fly by or their KPIs are dropping, then you know that there is a clear change in behavior that needs to be addressed.


The first step to addressing these issues is actually using monitoring software. Monitoring software is great for helping you determine how well each employee is performing their job. As soon as you have that information in your hands, you can have a one-on-one meeting with your employees, in which you will get to address all of your concerns. Open communication at that level is going to be the key to helping bring back your employee.

5. No Contributions or Feedback

You may notice that your employee is not making any real contributions or providing valuable feedback on the project you are working on. In this case, chances are they are not paying enough attention. Being a contributing team member is an important aspect of teamwork - this is why you should try to resolve that issue as soon as you notice it.


Possible solutions could include having one-on-one or team meetings. You should also express your concerns and let your employees know that you are there for anything they need. Acknowledging their previous contributions will also help give them more confidence.


When it comes to employee productivity, noticing the behaviors of your employees can be the key to changing an idle employee into an engaged one. This is why you should always be on the lookout for the telltale signs of idlers and work to help them contribute more as soon as you notice those behavior patterns.

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