Allowing your employees to have some fun at work can do wonders for engagement and morale – but where is the line between a social atmosphere and slacking off?

A survey from recruitment firm Robert Half asked more than 2,000 executives about the most common causes of time wasting at their company, and the results indicate that misuse of technology and excessive socialising at work can have the biggest impact on productivity.

Non-work related internet use, including social media, was revealed to be the greatest time-waster in the office, claiming just under a third of respondents’ votes.

Following close behind on the list was employees chatting and socialising during work hours, with 27 per cent of respondents saying this is the main source of lost productivity at their organisation. One in five respondents stated that personal calls or emails are the top time waster at work, with 7 per cent saying work-related email can also affect productivity if not managed well.

Meanwhile, 11 per cent of executives were more concerned with the impact that meetings had on productivity. Larger firms in particular – those with more than 1,000 employees – found this to be a major problem, with 19 per cent saying this was a cause for concern.

“Chatting with co-workers and attending to personal activities during breaks at the office are acceptable within reason…but too many distractions can detract from individual and team productivity,” said Robert Half Senior Executive Director, Paul McDonald in a February 6 statement.

There is clearly a fine balance to be struck between allowing a welcoming workplace culture to flourish and maintaining productivity and appropriacy. Ensuring that policies are in place regarding working hours, behaviour and use of technology is important, but these must also be effectively communicated to staff.

Employers may wish to engage a provider of HR Support Services to assist in creating or reviewing policies and developing a communication strategy to disseminate the information. Performance management training for managers who are struggling with underperforming staff may also help to address productivity issues.

Recent articles

Balance of probailities

Understanding Balance of Probabilities in Workplace Investigations

Author - John Boardman, Director Workplace Relations The more serious the allegation, the more serious consideration should be given by...
Remote or isolated work

The impact of poor support on remote and isolated workers: Summary of the webinar

Remote and isolated work encompasses more than just working in a home setting; it taps into the narrative of employees...
Reasonable management.

What isn’t Workplace Bullying? Reasonable Management.

Article updated on 15 April 2024 [Originally published in 2017] Workplace bullying is an organisational problem. It can happen in...
Trauma informed investigations

Trauma-informed workplace investigations: Prioritising ‘care’ over rigid processes

Interviewee: Kirsten Hartmann, Senior Workplace Relations Adviser/Workplace Investigator In August 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) released four guiding...