One of the great things about writing about HR is the unbelievable range of stupid stuff that human beings do during work time. Here’s a small sampling.  

If you’re thinking, “Oh, I bet this is another one of those CareerBuilder surveys,” you’re right. This one asked 2,175 hiring and human resource managers for examples of the most bizarre things they caught employees doing while they were supposed to be working, and the most common productivity killers in the workplace.

First, the most outrageous behaviors:

  1. Employee was taking a sponge bath in the bathroom sink
  2. Employee was trying to hypnotize other employees to stop their smoking habits
  3. Employee was visiting a tanning bed in lieu of making deliveries
  4. Employee was looking for a mail order bride
  5. Employee was playing a video game on their cell phone while sitting in a bathroom stall
  6. Employee was drinking vodka while watching Netflix
  7. Employee was sabotaging another employee’s car tires
  8. Employee was sleeping on the CEO’s couch
  9. Employee was writing negative posts about the company on social media
  10. Employee was sending inappropriate pictures to other employees
  11. Employee was searching Google images for “cute kittens”
  12. Employee was making a model plane
  13. Employee was flying drones around the office, and
  14. Employee was printing pictures of animals, naming them after employees and hanging them in the work area.

Less unconventional distractions

Thanks to smartphones, chatty co-workers and never-ending Twitter feeds, the obstacles that get in the way of actual work are seemingly endless, the survey indicated. Asked to name the biggest productivity killers in the workplace, employers cited the following:

  • Cell phones/texting: 52%
  • The Internet: 44%
  • Gossip: 37%
  • Social media: 36%
  • Email: 31%
  • Co-workers dropping by: 27%
  • Meetings: 26%
  • Smoke breaks/snack breaks: 27%
  • Noisy co-workers: 17%, and
  • Sitting in a cubicle: 10%.

The Consequences

With so many distractions around, it’s almost surprising any work gets done at all – and sometimes it doesn’t. Survey respondents listed  negative consequences for their organizations, including:

  • Compromised quality of work: 45%
  • Lower morale because other workers have to pick up the slack: 30%
  • Negative impact of boss/employee relationship: 25%
  • Missed deadlines: 24%, and
  • Loss in revenue: 21%.

Not too many surprises there.

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