We know why we procrastinate. We know how to deal with each individual factor of procrastination. The question is: How do we take those principles of procrastination and apply them in the workplace?
If an employee procrastinates, the typical answer is to reprimand them. However, procrastination may have its subtle effects in the workplace which bosses may not notice. In a work scenario where it is difficult to pinpoint delays to any one person, or in a workplace that is loosely-regulated, problems of procrastination are particularly pervasive. Even in any other kind of workplace, the desire to procrastinate and get distracted is a structural problem in a workplace that should be addressed.
The Procrastination-Proof Workplace
1) The Façade of Time i.e. “There’s time for later”
There are two areas in the workplace where procrastination may be rampant. The first would be projects involving lengthy deadlines. Some laissez-faire leaders tend to let employees be free to complete work as they deem fit, but this may lead to college-like last minute cramming. A common-sense tip would be to keep tabs on the progress of workers and set milestones to check up on them. Even if they cram for the milestones, at least the magnitude of cramming is lesser.
Secondly, minor tasks in the workplace sometimes go unheeded due to their lesser importance in the present time. Often, minor requests are mentioned in the passing, but no one takes it seriously even if they should. One way to deal with this is to well… make them take it seriously. If you want something small to be given attention, note it down in black-and-white and give basic instructions. Verbal communications don’t do minor tasks justice.
2) Disconnect between Action and Reward i.e. “Meh”
Workers these days, especially Gen Y workers, tend to view constant feedback and reassurance as a vital part of their ability to perform. While this is arguable, many workers often fall into the rut of not “being in the mood” to work. Thus we get the classic stereotype of employees sneaking a peek at YouTube videos during work hours.
Providing consistent feedback to employees is generally an effective method of bringing an instant connection with the work they put in and the reward they get. Waiting till the end of the month for a paycheck may not cut it anymore.
3) Low Expectations i.e. “No hope, no chance”
Finally, a task with no purpose is a task waiting to be stalled. If employees have little expectations in the usefulness of a task, they aren’t going to put it on their list of priorities. Sometimes a task might be useful, but its usefulness gets lost in translation. Being able to point out potential in a task is vital to getting the workforce to push it through.
Procrastination might also be on an individual basis when it comes to the workforce. Sometimes, an employee begins their job with much enthusiasm and dedication. Slowly, the prospect of burnout begins to creep in. This once enthusiastic member of the workforce is now reduced to sending in work late and below expectations. This classic scenario occurs when the employee feels that their workplace isn’t the once ‘liberating’ and ‘opportunity-filled’ environment it once was, but the shackles of a bad decision. Not much can be done expect to provide opportunities for an employee to grow and to stimulate their mind with activities that appeal to them.