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[INFOGRAPHIC] How Much do Workers Slack?

Monday, April 23, 2012 by Slaughter Development

Corporate productivity in many organizations is based on time tracking. A new infographic about corporate productivity and “slacking” is generating some serious controversy.

The image, which claims that people spend about an hour a day “slacking” instead of contributing to corporate productivity, is featured below. You can also see it on the website of the software company that commissioned the graphic.

It’s hard to know where to begin. The creators of the image have written a follow-up post, so they are certainly aware of the negative reaction. Let’s hit the highlights:


Yes, we all want increased corporate productivity. But when the primary yardstick is “average working slacking”, the most likely impact is a decline in employee morale. Using a term like “slack” isn’t exactly going to increase employee satisfaction!


We know that measuring employee performance often backfires.  That’s because the relationship between overall corporate productivity and micromanagement is like fire and water. The best way to ensure that people don’t get things done is to obsessively measure their progress.

Working Hours

This may be the oldest myth in business: that people who are at their desk are working. Of course, employee start times have nothing to do with corporate productivity.

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Broadly speaking,  tracking time at work  is more often the problem than it is the solution. Software tools that record what people are doing are easily turned by the kinds of business that ban sitting and walking too slowly. In every situation, we need to find ways to show employees that what’s most important is the overall corporate productivity generated in what they accomplish, not how they spend their time.

If you want to buy software like Desktime to improve your own productivity, go for it! But if you want to try to force your employees to be more productive, consider focusing on process and results rather than facetime and minutes. That’s the real benefit to customers and to workers alike.

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Like this post? Here are some related entries from The Methodology Blog you might enjoy:

Great Workers Surf On The Job - We all know that employees at work should be working. But according to a new study, those who spend a bit of time at the office goofing around online are actually more productive than their colleagues. Read on »
Want to learn more? Register now for the 2012 Productivity Series

3 Responses to “[INFOGRAPHIC] How Much do Workers Slack?”

  1. Bryan Hart Says:

    It makes sense that the average worker slacks, because most are trained (as I was) in an education system that made you work 30-45 minutes of each class hour. After 13 years+ of that training, it is hard to break the habit.

    My favored model is pay for performance compensation. Not every position can gauge how to pay commission, but those positions that due pay strait of draw commission have much more natural motivation

    The more we see ourselves as self-employeed, no matter what position we hold, the better we can perform. Moving that vision from a leader to rest of the organization is the key…

  2. Bryan Hart Says:

    Wow…I wrote this comment too fast.

    Due = do

    And I meant, “Those positions that do pay strait OR draw commission…”

    Sorry. Great post by the way.

  3. Robby Slaughter Says:

    Thanks for the comment, Bryan!

    Unfortunately, I don’t think the answer is pay-for-performance. In fact, the science says that this is the worst way to motivate people.

    We do need to pay attention to results, but we also need to recognize that people need breaks and that what really matters is how people deal with freedom. Do they use it unproductively, or do they create value for the organization and use the space to innovate, explore and take risks?

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