Human Resources



A rant about lazy workers

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Once upon a time, I worked with this girl. She never stayed late, she never showed up early and she never volunteered to help co-workers with anything.

She claimed she had big dreams – like, really big – and that one day she would get there. But instead of being known as someone putting in extra effort to achieve her goals, her colleagues (myself included) thought of her as lazy. She rode on other people’s successes and took credit for work she did not fully complete herself.

I always rolled my eyes at the thought of her landing her dream job. There was just no way. And then, she did.

From what I hear, she has succeeded. She’s got the job she always wanted, and she probably did it with a huge, smug smile on her face.

I’m not bitter (promise) but if I was I’d have a pretty good reason to be. New research has found what we’ve all long suspected – hard-working folks can end up less engaged and unhappy, while those who prance along doing bugger all keep smiling.

Leadership IQ examined 207 companies that kept a very close eye on employee engagement and performance and found that in 42% of companies, the best workers are the least engaged.

Those low-achieving people in the office really do skate by – and your top workers can see it, and they resent it.

To me, the most interesting part of the research is that these under-performers were generally found to be totally unaware they were considered as such. Their own inadequacy never revealed itself to them and they remained totally oblivious of their own shortcomings. Or, at least, they were smart enough to pretend they didn’t realise.

I don’t know exactly what HR and the company can do the fix a problem like this. People who skate by on the coat-tails of others probably always will. But I reckon if the company attempted to correct their behaviour somehow, they’d probably end up leaving and finding somewhere else where they can continue to put in minimal effort. Good for you, not so good for their next employer.

While lazy people make me angry, it actually makes sense. Low performers are left alone at work. They sit at their desks all day, happy as Larry, doing whatever they want because management don’t really care what they do.

But what’s scary – apart from the fact these people are probably costing you thousands of dollars – is these low performers are also more likely to act as company ambassadors, telling people what a great place your organisation is to work. Just what you need – more slackers.

On the upside, at least these people aren’t spending all day moaning about work, like those employees who drone on about how they stayed late again last night.

I mean really, stop telling us all about how hard-working you are… why don’t you go write a column whining about lazy people instead? Geez.


Rebecca Lewis

P.s. I swear I’m not bitter.

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Rebecca Lewis
Human Resources Magazine Singapore

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