Between Facebook and smoking breaks, it’s a wonder any work gets done in South African businesses. In’s 2014 Wasting Time at Work Survey, a staggering 89% of employees admitted to wasting time in their work environment, says Jenny Reid, MD of iFacts.

The results show that 62% of respondents waste between 30 to 60 minutes per day, 26% waste two to five hours a day and 4% waste over half-a-day on non-work related tasks. The biggest culprits are employees spending time dealing with colleague-related annoyances (24%) and browsing the Internet (26%). What little time remains of a work day is often lack-lustre performance by anxious, angry or depressed workers.

Mind the gap
The picture this survey paints is disturbing. It shows employees who are disengaged from their work. It indicates that line-managers are not managing employees in an effective way. While performance appraisals will give some indication of performance, they unfortunately don’t give the whole picture. There is a gap between HR departments and the employees at the coalface.

Often this results in the blame game, with management picking on staff for poor work performance and missed deadlines. A dispirited workforce leads to poor internal relationships and external relationships with customers and suppliers. It may even weaken security in some cases.

Communication and engagement
The truth is that if an employee’s wellbeing is not addressed holistically, it can have a significant impact on their work ethic and work performance. This can lead to stress and vulnerability. At iFacts, we know that crime syndicates prey on such an employee – and criminal and fraudulent activity won’t be discovered by the company until it’s too late.

Even without criminal activity, absenteeism and poor work performance becomes a headache for the overloaded HR practitioner having to deal with disciplinary and corrective procedures.

Communication in any organisation is important. It helps employees feel connected and engaged in an inclusive corporate culture. An integrated wellness programme will help employees achieve a work-life balance and streamline the communication process. It also provides HR management with important information, which will help them make better decisions in the future.

At iFacts, we believe that businesses that offer a wellness programme will see the benefit in their financial performances. This applies to both big and small businesses in South Africa.

Is clockwatching the way to go?
Let’s face it, the answer to poor productivity and struggling morale in a company is not draconian time management. Time is not static. It is intangible and means different things to different people. What will work is to empower employees to take ownership of their work – and their own lives outside of work – so that every employee is committed, positive and productive.

Engagement via a wellness programme is often the answer. When you know what is going on in your employees’ lives, you will be more aware of where security risks lie and foster a more creative, productive and happier life for everyone in the office or factory.