We’ve all been there . . . it’s after lunch when you notice a “must see” video glowing in your inbox. Maybe it’s just before your scheduled break when your co-workers invite you over for refreshments. No matter the scenario, getting caught being off-task can have serious consequences. Good intentions of being a “busy bee” is often cast aside for momentary enjoyment. While every employee has the occasional slip-up, indulging in too much workplace downtime can tarnish your reputation -- and even get you fired. In a workplace filled with distractions, staying focused takes commitment.
Defining Counterproductive Behavior
Counterproductive behavior takes on many forms such as texting, gossiping or taking unauthorized breaks during designated work time. Activities that break your concentration limit your overall effectiveness. Distracted workers make more errors -- even deadly ones. Counterproductive behavior is not limited to certain positions. Managers can be guilty of direct or indirect acts that contribute to inefficient work environments. This includes allowing daily mayhem to take place without correcting it. Establishing clear behavior guidelines weakens the validity of excuses such as “I was never told that” or “I’m just doing what I always do.”
Once you know the standard, not living up to it is unprofessional -- regardless of your job role. While resisting the temptation to cut out early for lunch or to take personal calls can be difficult, not doing so can be detrimental to your career progress. It can also affect the habits of any co-workers who witness your behavior. Use a combination of formal evaluations and your conscience to construct a list of your bad workplace habits. Think of ways to stop doing each one -- and actually employ your ideas. Simply leaving for your commute 15 minutes earlier can end tardiness, while locking your cell phone in your car during the workday can curb urges to text.
Influencing Your Co-workers
Peer pressure is often a contributing factor to workplace nonsense. It’s harder to behave when “everyone’s doing it.” Encouraging your co-workers to be productive doesn’t require you to become the office villain -- or superhero. Simply saying “no” to offers of fun -- but counterproductive activities -- may compel others to follow your lead. Decisive actions such as separating yourself from the “gossip girls,” while picking up additional assignments, will further demonstrate your commitment to efficiency. It’s not necessary to target defiant offenders, as they may never alter their bad behavior.
Working With Management
Although you may not have the power to implement behavior policies, you can still affect their creation and revision. Keeping management informed about specific issues can lead to quick solutions. For instance, simply removing a break room television or limiting radio station choice can boost productivity. Choose your words carefully to avoid being labeled the “office snitch.” It may be wise to remain anonymous with some disclosures.
Mika Lo has been producing online content since 2005. The majority of her work has been published in areas such as parenting, lifestyle and health. Lo has also assisted with the development of community and hospital-based patient education programs, including creative discharge classes for new mothers and assisting underprivileged patients with medication assistance and information.