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How to deal with an employee who's always busy but is unproductive

by , 28 July 2014
Let's say John is your employee. You give him work to do just like the rest of your employees. Other employees always deliver what you require, but John just doesn't seem to produce the goods. What makes this situation complicated is, John is always busy at his desk and he's eager as opposed to being openly lazy or uncooperative - he's just inefficient.

Now the big question is: How do you deal with John's situation?

Read on to find out how to deal with an employee who's always busy but is unproductive, so you can effectively deal with poor performance in your workplace.

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Do you have a paper-shuffler working for you?

You know that person…

  • Always busy but never meets deadlines…
  • Always making excuses for why he doesn't meet company targets…
  • He doesn't meet his KPI's…
  • And he's constantly making costly mistakes…

The next logical step is to get rid of him and get someone who can do the job. But watch out, that could cost you BIG at the CCMA!

So what can you LEGALLY do?


If your employee is always busy but is unproductive, deal with him as follows

According to labour guide.co.za, the best way to deal with an employee who's always busy but is unproductive is frequent and firm counselling.

You have to make it clear what kind of standard you require (as if he does not already know) and by when.

You must set strict deadlines for your employee and inform him in writing what the consequences will be if he doesn't improve his poor performance.

Always remember this when dealing with poor performance

When dealing with poor performance, the first thing you must do is check that your employee is fully aware of the standards he must meet and knows that he's not meeting the standards you require, says the site.

If your employee is fully aware of the problem, look for other things that are making him unable to meet the standards you require. For example, his tool may be sub-standard or worn out. As a result, the poor performance may not necessarily be his fault.

According to labour guide.co.za, another important point to remember is: If your employee doesn't meet standards and you do nothing about it, you're in effect telling him that the standards don't matter and it's of no consequence if he fails to meet laid down standards.

This means that you're telling your employee that sub-standard performance is acceptable and before long the sub-standard performance becomes the new standard!

So make sure you deal with poor performance effectively now that you know what to do when an employee is always busy but unproductive.

PS: If you have any questions on how to deal with poor performance, don't hesitate to ask our labour experts at the Labour & HR Club.

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