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How to Deal With an Employee who Neglects Duties at Work

What employer doesn’t dream of a business that runs smoothly and having a team of employees that work proficiently? However, there are many exceptions to that perfect scenario and employers have to deal with employees who aren’t pulling their weight. For management to manage these issues in a professional manner, they need to understand the probable reasons for such behavior. In conjunction, they also need to cultivate viable solutions for the workplace. This article will address the probable reasons behind the issue as well as solutions management can take.

Probable Reasons Behind the Issue

There are a variety of reasons why employees may not be pulling their weight in the workplace. Before management decides to fire or write up an employee, it is important for them to fully comprehend why the negative behavior is occurring. Three top reasons will be discussed here.

1. Poor Communication Issues

Many times miscommunication is the culprit in these types of situations. An employee may have misunderstood an assigned task or a conversation with a supervisor. This individual may appear not to be pulling his or her own weight, when in reality; it’s an issue of misunderstanding. There are a few different options to assist in addressing poor communication issues.  


  • Complete an employee assessment. Find some sample assessments here.
  • Address the general issue at a staff meeting or through an inter-office memo.
  • Schedule a meeting with the employee to discuss the situation further.

It is important for a manager or supervisor to address the issue in a professional manner and not be perceived as threatening. Cite specific examples of how the employee has been shirking responsibilities. Be open to allow the employee to speak and share his or her perspective on the issue. It is vital for management to show the employee that they are willing to work together to find a viable solution for the problem. However, every circumstance will call for a specific response. Go over the explicit job description so that the employee will fully comprehend what is expected for his or her job.

2. Insufficient Employee Training

A probable second reason that an employee may not be pulling his weight at work can be that insufficient training was provided. Perhaps the employee needs more work in learning better time management skills. MindTools.com has various tools to help employees learn better time management skills and become more effective in accomplishing daily work tasks. Both new and current employees need training; however, at different skill levels. For current employees, it is important that management watches for signs of diminished work performance. When that occurs, it is time for more training programs to be initiated. When technological advances are implemented into the workplace that is another time when employees will need training so that they can work to the best of their abilities.

3. Nonchalant Work Performance

This third step has to do with defining the cause behind the employee’s nonchalant attitude in the workplace. If it has nothing to do with poor communication or insufficient training, then it’s likely that the employee is dealing with a problem attitude. The next step is to ascertain whether or not this employee’s attitude can improve with an adjustment. If the answer is no, then such a nonchalant attitude can negatively flood the workplace. The employee may need to be written up or even let go if the attitude does not change.

Suggested Solutions to the Issue

There are some suggested solutions that could be viable for these circumstances. Three of the ideas are listed below.

  • A protocol for the proper professional procedure should be created and included in the employee handbook. Policies of how employees are expected to behave in the workplace should be discussed at staff meetings when such issues arise.  
  • Having a suggestion box in the office is a good idea to encourage employee interaction with the management. This article shares tips on why a suggestion box is a good idea.
  • Management needs to be aware of all the issues that are going on in the workplace. Cultivating a managerial attitude of inclusion and constructive criticism is important.

When an employee is not pulling his weight in the workplace, management needs to make sure the situation is handled with care in a professional manner. The root cause of the issue first needs to be defined and then steps can be taken to work with the employee to improve the situation. Good communication between management and the employees is a key factor toward running an efficient workplace. Proper training also plays a big role.