The latest workplace problem: Workers with too little to do

By: Robin Shea

February 19, 2018

Killin' time with Snapchat and Candy Crush during working hours.

 

Ed Zwim of the New York Post reports on a study showing that employees who don't have enough work to do is becoming a big problem:

Idle time in fact occurs frequently across all occupational categories in the US, and is costing employers roughly $100 billion each year, according to a draft paper to be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology.

While much has been written in the media and explored in academic research about the dilemma facing overstressed workers with too much to do and too little time in which to do it, the reverse is also true. 

Idle time is not due to laziness on the part of workers, but rather a variety of causes, including the tendency of companies to carry more employees than they need as an insurance against busy times. After all, nobody likes waiting on hold for a customer service representative. 

In other instances, the downtime may be caused by managers allocating work poorly, leaving employees with nothing to do, or by equipment malfunctions which leave the help unable to complete necessary tasks.

As workplace problems go, I've seen worse. (Well, except for the "costing $100 billion" part.)

Just make sure those Snapchat pix are appropriate and businesslike, please.

Robin Shea is a Partner with the law firm of Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete, LLP and has more than 20 years' experience in employment litigation, including Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act (including the Amendments Act), the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act, the Equal Pay Act, and the Family and Medical Leave Act; and class and collective actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act and state wage-hour laws; defense of audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs; and labor relations. She conducts training for human resources professionals, management, and employees on a wide variety of topics.