what to do about a coworker who slacks off all day long

If you’ve ever had a slacker coworker — someone who goofed off all day, getting little done, and often leaving other people covering more than their fair share of the work — you’ve known a frustration that’s rampant in many workplaces. You might also recognize there’s something that takes that situation from annoying to downright infuriating: a manager who knows about the problem but won’t act.

At Slate today, I wrote about slackers and the managers who enable them. You can read it here.

{ 125 comments… read them below }

  1. Jennifer*

    Wow, I’ve heard of people looking at animals available for adoption just for fun but never heard of people looking at humans in the same way. That’s more than a bit strange. That coworker was a bit bizarre anyway.

    Is it possible sometimes people appear to be slackers just because the work doesn’t challenge them and they finish it quickly? I have a friend who finishes all of her work in about 3 hours and spends the rest of the day goofing off because she can’t leave. Butts in seats and all that. She’s salaried.

    1. Czhorat*

      IN this case, though, the LW said that the co-worker was submitting poor-quality work lacking in detail. It seems clear that they could be giving more time and effort to the job.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yes, my second paragraph is more general, not in reference to the article’s examples. Sometimes I think the title of slacker is unfairly applied.

        1. Fortitude Jones*

          Yup. I’m one of those highly efficient people you were talking about who completes a day’s worth of work in a few hours. Depending on my mood, I’d either jump in and help someone else on their work or just browse the internet until I was able to go home. I’ve had people side-eye my browsing habits until they saw what my workload looked like – then they would leave me alone as they saw I was usually producing more than everyone else, lol.

          1. Turquoisecow*

            Yeah and the problem is if you help other people out too much you just end up getting more of their work and they get more slack!

            I was fine helping out once in a while but then my coworker realized she could just offload half the task to me ever week and then I got annoyed.

            1. Fortitude Jones*

              This happened to me when I worked at a law firm in their client services department. I had coworkers who would walk around and talk ALL. DAY. LONG and then complain about having too much work to get done. My supervisor(s) would always ask me to finish up their workloads since I was usually already done with mine, but if the coworker was someone I knew wasn’t actually trying to get stuff done, I’d pass, lol. (I would make up some project I needed to get done.) Genuine slackers can do their own damn work.

              1. BeenThereOG*

                I know exactly how you feel and have been burned badly by slackers in the past by complaining that I’m not being helpful. After them asking for the 6th something that should be a basic skill at that level and is super easy to Google.

                I’m really efficient if I’m left alone and because of how meetings work I often complete a large amount of work between 4pm – 7pm. Usually once all the slackers have gone home.

          2. mcr-red*

            I’m the same way. I’m fast and efficient. I also have a wildly varying task list so I could have several days of the week in which I literally have no tasks assigned, and then it can turn around and I will have 25 or more. So there will be days where I have nothing to do, and there will be days that I barely have time to go to the bathroom.

      2. doreen*

        I think the LW who mentioned the poor quality work was a different person than the one who was looking at photos of animals and children for adoption. That letter doesn’t seem to be about co-worker submitting poor quality work so much as 1) Coworker wants to keep the office door shut so she doesn’t get ccaught and 2) the LW feels “resentment toward her for her lack of consideration of the time and effort that I put into my job”. It doesn’t seem that the LW’s workload is being impacted by the coworker’s surfing at all and that leads me to believe there is a good chance that either they aren’t doing the same job or they are doing the same job and are assigned the same amount of work but the coworker is faster/more efficient.

        And while the LW is annoyed that the coworker wastes so much time, I am annoyed in the opposite direction. I’m not thrilled about getting extra work because my peers take 8 hours to write a report that should take no more than two.

        1. Jennifer*

          Good point. The letter really didn’t mention anything about her work. I agree. Unless it affects you, mind your business. And just looking busy when you aren’t really very efficient isn’t much better than being a slacker.

        2. Washi*

          Yeah, that’s the flipside. I do at least 50% more work than most of my team members and still have time to do a lot of personal stuff during the day. I didn’t mind getting paid the same as my slower and less productive coworkers because I valued having a low stress job. In the past few months, the higher ups have discovered that I have the capacity for a lot more and have dumped a bunch of new projects on me, so now suddenly I’m doing twice the work of my team members but continuing to get paid the same with no possibility of promotion or raise.

          I am leaving in 3 weeks and am secretly enjoying all of the “what will we do without you” moaning.

          1. Lx in Canada*

            Haha I became kind of the “go-to girl” for questions in my old department… I was very good at the work, but it was distracting! And all of these people sat within a few feet of me, so even with headphones on I couldn’t ignore them… When I pointed out to one of them that they asked me questions a few times a day, they said they just wanted to confirm things and they don’t ask that many questions. I didn’t know what to say, but later I came up with it (of course!!!!): that when everybody asks me 3-4 questions a day, it very quickly adds up!

            I still did great work, but I was always very stressed out and I had to stay sitting there because my boss wanted to keep an eye on me due to my constant lateness problem (which is a separate issue…). Now I’m in my new job and I’m learning and it’s kind of refreshing to be the one asking questions for once, haha!

            1. TardyTardis*

              That happened when I worked at the library. I said to myself, ‘now that one woman who sits and talks with the manager all day might actually have to do some work, ha!’.

    2. Karen from Finance*

      Ooof, I’ve definitely been in the position of your second paragraph, and it SUCKS.

      I was in a job surrounder by people who were all ultra-busy, everyone thought they were too busy to train me, I didn’t get any training, so I didn’t get assigned any tasks, so I had nothing to do, so I got a reputation for being a slacker. And it’s not that I enjoyed doing nothing, I raised complaints about it all the time. I was eventually moved to a team with a supervisor who actually trained me, but that took 2 months.

      1. Spreadsheets and Books*

        I’ve been in that role, too. At my last job, I wasn’t fully up to speed on anything until well over a year into my tenure and it wasn’t from lack of trying. I spent a lot of time on Reddit because I couldn’t think of anything else to do.

      2. Jennifer*

        Been there. I also hate being made to feel like asking to be trained is imposing upon someone. Why hire people if you don’t want to train them?

      3. Bored for days*

        I am in this exact situation right now. I have been on this team going on for 6 weeks. I have received some training but essentially have to fight for any work load from my coworkers. I have been put in charge of two reports that each take about 5-10 mins a day. The rest of my 8 hrs I spend trying to find a way to stay busy. Whenever I ask if I can sit and watch them work or help with anything or train on something, I am told they have nothing for me. Yet this team also complains that there is not enough hours in the day to get their work completed. Thankfully next week I am transferring to my old team in as a team lead.

        1. Karen from Finance*

          It’s bananas because they’d all be less busy if they would be willing to take 5 minutes to teach someone else.

          1. Temperance*

            It never just takes “5 minutes”, though. It’s training someone, being available for questions, then checking over the work …

            1. Ego Chamber*

              In some workplaces there’s a lot of value in being able to bitch constantly about how overworked you are, and training someone to take over some of that work would mean less opportunity for corporate martyrdom (and potentially a loss of raises/bonuses, if the workplace really sucks).

            2. Karen from Finance*

              I understand this, but this is a short-term way of thinking. You’re just shooting yourself in the foot in the long run, if what you’re really after is to have less work.

        2. Close Bracket*

          “I am told they have nothing for me. ”

          My take is they are hoarding work for whatever reason. Maybe they like all their work and don’t want to give up good work even if they are over-committed. Maybe they are concerned that if they give up some of the work, it will seem like there isn’t enough work for them and their position will be in jeopardy. Maybe some other reason that I cannot even begin to guess at is in play.

          Or maybe they just don’t want to go through the two hours of pain it will take to get you up to speed even though it will result in six hours less work every week for them. People are very, very good at avoiding pain in the moment and very, very bad at predicting their future emotional state.

          I’m glad things will change for you soon.

        3. Temperance*

          FWIW, I’ve been in the place where I don’t have time to train anyone to handle a task, but am overburdened with work. I wouldn’t be as productive with someone “watching” me, either, and it would stress me out a lot.

          1. Feline*

            Solidarity, Temperance. I am there now. Layoff after layoff has left me doing the job that three and a half people did at the time I was hired. I need help in a big way, but if I slow down to train someone, I miss external customer-facing deadlines that have big ramifications.

      4. User in PC Purgatory*

        I had that job for awhile, but looking back I don’t know if the team had been communicated to that I was actually on their team. That’s my generous interpretation of events. (It was a little weird how my original job was set up and even more weird how I was supposed to be absorbed into the other team)

        I got tired of asking for things to do, and eventually settled on doing my one putzy quick job and then playing games for the rest of the day. Eventually I couldn’t take that anymore and volunteered to take a new position that required 100% travel.

        So I guess I probably had the ‘slacker’ image to the team, although they actively didn’t train me and excluded me from meetings. But my bosses (Why yes, I had 3 of them) knew that I wasn’t one.

      5. Anax*

        Yeah, I’m in a similar boat. I do have a few projects to do, so some days I’m moderately busy – but some days, everything I’m trained on is waiting on someone else, so I’m just sitting around guiltily. I do seem to have a decent reputation based on the work I’m doing, but I worry about the time where I’m just sitting around!

        It’s feast-or-famine for me right now, and it’s a little frustrating – especially because I’m also fighting depression, and mustering the executive function and brainpower for “feast” days can sometimes be tough.

      6. MotherofCats*

        Yeah, my manager is crazy busy, stress-crying, etc., but won’t let go of ANY tasks. Meanwhile I’m sitting here trying to look busy when people walk by.

    3. Lord Gouldian Finch*

      That’s why it’s important to look at impact and output instead of focusing on superficial stuff. My old job used to say 1 cubic foot of fully processed material a day or 3 cubic feet of minimally processed material was the per day average goal. If at the end of the month you did only 12 cubic feet of fully processed material it was noticeable.

      Admittedly there are jobs where it can be hard to find bright-line goals but you can still focus on visible impact – Jane’s clients calling (as Alison said) or Bob’s material not being as finished as it should be.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Yeah, your second paragraph has been my life in most situations, [which is why I’m here so frequently ;)]

      But I’m here as a “just in case we need you” that does pop up from time to time. Years ago I had to sit at the desk “just in case” the phone rang.

      But yeah the letters are all pretty specific about how they’re work is not getting done and it’s poor product when they do decide to stop goofing around. I’ve seen that happen a few times and I was the one who had to fire the person. Sigh.

    5. MatKnifeNinja*

      I know many people who look at the picture listings on my states adoption website (squick), and have no attention to adopt.

      Also found some people like to cruise through open house, and aren’t looking for a home.

      People are weird.

      1. Jennifer*

        I understand looking at houses, cars, anything else when you have no intention of buying.

        I think it’s downright strange to window shop for kids the same way you would a Honda Accord but that’s just me.

      2. pamela voorhees*

        I want to go with the most generous explanation, which is that they want to know what age ranges/needs are available so they can tailor donations to an agency. I really do. But sometimes people are just nosy.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

          Well, they might be thinking about adoption and are curious about the kids who need a home. I’ve done this in the past when I was researching the realities of fostering or adoption, not so much to window shop but to try to get a better idea of the issues I might encounter and whether I could cope with them. But I only did it for a while, not every day at work…

    6. NicoleK*

      Yes, entirely possible. My unorganized, slow, incompetent, BEC coworker probably thinks I’m a slacker because there are times when I have nothing to do, while she’s running around like a chicken with her head cut off.

    7. DataGirl*

      A local newspaper has a regular feature on teens who are hoping to be adopted. I have been known to click through to the charity’s site and look at other kids (and then get all weepy because I want to help them all). So I don’t think it’s that weird to look at adoption sites.

      1. I Don’t Remember What Name I Used Before*

        I have zero interest in kids and would never have any interest in doing something like this, and I just don’t see this as the big weird red flag that some people here do. There are plenty of legitimate reasons someone might want to look at children that are eligible for fostering or adoption, and regardless of intent, it harms no one to browse a website.

    8. Art3mis*

      I’m kind of in the same spot as your friend. My job isn’t challenging and I can exceed my production standards very easily. So I do a little net surfing to keep me awake.

    9. Fiddlesticks*

      I had a job where I regularly finished all my work in a few hours, and was told by my boss NOT to ask for more work or help my peers with their own work, because we entered all our billable project time cross-referenced with project steps reached, and my efficiency made my peers “look like they were underperforming for the number of hours they worked” to the Big Boss. Which they were, in my opinion! Fine, whatever, I never asked for more work again, and kept my butt planted in my seat doing whatever on my computer until quitting time rolled around. It was not good for my morale or ethics, and I left the job a year later.

      No one else on my team knew about my boss’ decision, as far as I know, and they probably thought I was just “slacking off” each afternoon, but since it wasn’t like I was dumping my workload on them they probably didn’t really care. Honestly, if someone’s work or lack thereof doesn’t directly affect you, it’s best just to MYOB and not worry about what’s on their screen unless you’re seeing something on the level of porn, Nazi propaganda, etc.

      P.S., during this work episode, I was considering fostering a child, and I did look online at children who needed a placement. I don’t consider that it was “strange” or “bizarre” in the least.

  2. The anonymous mouse*

    I’ve worked with a slacker for the last three years and their contract will not be renewed this month.

    It is frustrating, to say the least when your job depends on them to do their job as well. That said, sometimes the problem lies with a situation where the manager is unable to terminate positions due to politics/upper-management decisions (in our case, it lies within the grey area right before tenure). In that case, I’m not sure anyone wins.

    Letting contracts expire is a passive aggressive move IMO and most of all, I feel bad for my boss who knows it and has to deal with it for years. I took the “wait it out” position but man, it’s been a long wait!

  3. Quickbeam*

    My line on this issue is “how much does this affect me in my work?”. It’s helped me let go of resentment and inequities at work. If someone’s teams are seeking me out because the worker is “never there” then I feel I have ground to go to a manager. I’ve also asked for and got a raise for over-the-expected coverage for an often out employee.

    1. Glitsy Gus*

      This is where I stand as well, if it isn’t actually hurting me it isn’t really my business. Especially because I don’t necessarily know the whole story, even if I think I do.

      I currently have a job where I have stretches of very focused, brain-addling problem solving that require a lot of critical thinking and sorting. When I finish one piece, I take a break and read something fluffy or do a bit of website surfing in order to clear my brain and reset before jumping in to my next stretch. Sort of a Pomodoro-lite thing. It works for me, and I get my job done with good results. Now, if someone who didn’t know that happened to pass my desk during one of the breaks between projects, it may look like I’m spending quite a bit of time online “goofing off”, but really it’s not their business. My manager knows what’s up and is fine with it.

      I’ve had people make sort of passive aggressive comments in the past, so I do know that some folks can’t help but check everyone else’s monitor on the way to the restroom just to be sure everyone else is following their version of “correct.” I try to do my job and not worry about other people’s knitting unless it’s slowing down my own.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      Precisely. If you aren’t their supervisor, and if you aren’t affected by the coworker’s performance, leave it alone.

  4. Angela*

    I’m curious how much is considered ‘normal’ for bouts of internet browsing/ phone usage in an office. I know this varies a LOT from workplace to workplace, and even the industry- but I still wonder. I find myself checking a handful of innocuous sites here and there throughout the day. As long as it’s in short bursts, between projects or tasks, I find it helps me take a short break from my work and ‘reset’ my brain for another project. It helps me keep different areas of my work straight without feeling overwhelmed and going into information overload. But I know this varies dramatically per person. (For the record: I’m still getting all of my work done promptly and accurately, being proactive, and get great feedback, so I don’t see this as interfering with my work.)

    I just know if I go 100% working all day straight with no small breaks besides lunch, it’ll only be a few days before I start to feel burned out and my concentration suffers. Am I alone in this? I don’t keep tabs on co-workers internet usage so I’m curious what is ‘normal.’

    1. Spreadsheets and Books*

      I think it depends on the job. In my last position, once I was up to speed (eventually…) work was very cyclical, so we’d be busy busy busy… and then SUPER dead. In those dead periods, it wouldn’t be unusual to have 30-60 minutes of work in an entire day with the rest of the time spent doing basically whatever.

      I definitely spend time each day doing not work, usually 10-15 minutes here and there, and it depends on how busy I am. I work at a media company and our computers come pre-loaded with an IPTV app so we can watch TV at our leisure if we want to. We also have an in-house station accessible through our intranet and we get regular emails about what’s airing, so for me, that’s always an option.

      1. SixHourLunchBreak*

        My work is similarly cyclical. During the dead periods, my grand-boss actively encourages us to take advantage of the lull and relax a bit. Of course, we have to stay on top of any emails that come our way, but there are some days where we have zero projects and little to no proactive work (due to the nature of the job). The way I (and my boss) see it, the slow periods allow me to relax a bit and enjoy some rest before the pedal-to-the-metal busy times start. I really appreciate this flexibility, but it’s completely job-specific.

    2. GladI'mNotAlone*

      That’s exactly how I am. At some point, I told my manager directly that I will periodically go on Facebook in order to zone out and take a break. As I see it, as long as you are doing your work on time and well, it really shouldn’t matter.

      Now, about my co-worker who is probably surfing 80% of the day–that’s another story altogether!

    3. RandomU...*

      I feel like I’m on here a lot some days. But those are usually heavy meeting days for me, that I have short bursts of time between them that it’s not worth trying to start something.

    4. Anax*

      Folks here suggested pomodoros (25 minutes working, 5 minute break), and that’s been working pretty well for me. I need that reset time too – my job means consuming a ton of information, and I need a little time to let it settle.

    5. Rebecca*

      In my case, I’m swamped for about 10 months out of the year, and very slack for 2 months. During those 2 months, I take my time, play games on my phone, surf the net…and do whatever work I need to do, but sometimes it’s maybe 3 or 4 hours of an 8 hour day, so it might appear to a casual observer that I am the slacker coworker. I try to take most of my time off work in these time frames as well. BUT – we are not allowed overtime, we’re non-exempt so it’s butts in seats, I have very little if any help during my busiest times, none is forthcoming, and if I take on more work, there is no reward. I won’t get a raise, I won’t get extra time off, I won’t get comp time, I’ll get nothing but even more work to do. I have to wonder if it’s this way at other companies, as in, workers are expected to work at 110% constantly, week after week, year after year, with no incentive like extra money, extra time off, no potential to earn or advance – if that’s the case, perhaps that’s why people seem to slack off?

    6. Mother of Cats*

      Our company wants us to be actively doing productive, job related work 70% of the day. Too much more than that and you’re apparently at risk for burnout, stress, and being less productive due to brain fade. I likely do less than that in a day anyway but I can fill my time with industry related study and work toward certifications which will benefit the company so that’s kind of half worky half personal developmenty and doesn’t feel as slacky as reading news articles that aren’t industry related or doing my online shopping. I justify this blog at work as personal development (I’m not a manager but knowing how to effectively tackle conversations and interpersonal relationships seems like good development for everyone!) and I have a Feedly with all the relevant topics coming in. No one would care how much I surfed as long as my work was all getting done but it just feels like doing too much personal surfing when you’re not busy in front of people who are busy (because they do different jobs I can’t do for them) looks bad.

    7. EH*

      Yeah, it definitely depends on the job and the worker. I do a lot of websurfing/browsing/dicking around on my phone, but I also get my work done and meet deadlines, and when I’m not actively working I keep my email and Slack up where I can see them and respond immediately to questions/comments/requests. I work best in small bursts, I literally could not do it for multiple hours in a row. I do go through more and less productive phases, but my coworkers and managers have always praised my output and willingness to help out with almost anything, so I figure it’s okay.

      I do get way more self-conscious about it when I’m in an open-plan office, but it doesn’t change my work:browsing ratio – it just means I prop my phone up and keep an eye on my computer screen while reading the internet on my phone. If anything, it probably makes me less productive because the stress of being on display all day and constantly interrupted destroys my ability to concentrate. (I’m a tech writer, so my job consists of learning to use software and writing explanations for end users; it’s brain-intensive and requires at least a little flow state, which is pretty much impossible for me in an open office. Thankfully my current gig has me working remotely part of the week and my desk in the office is set up with my back to the wall in a small shared room with one other person and not in the open-plan area with the developers.)

      1. TardyTardis*

        During the tax season, there are slack times (like around mid-March when the first wave of people getting their W-2’s winds down and the people with Weird Tax Lives who know they will pay are holding off because they know they will have to pay). In an open plan office, we often have nice chats about some of the fun people we deal with, but there’s only so many times I can read Publication 17 for either federal or state without going nuts–and any time we watch a company training video, you have to be able to pause it instantly in case a customer comes in. We work on drop-off returns, some of which are pretty interesting (hint to day traders: you really should be paying estimated taxes). But sometimes it’s just dead in the office, and I can’t bring myself to care about the tax treatment of HSAs even at gunpoint.

    8. Curmudgeon in Califormia*

      I do development type of work, as well as answering tickets.

      When I have a dev project in from of me, I may go days without writing a line of code, but just running a few commands, poking around configurations, and reading blogs like this on, or relevant stuff on stack overflow. Then things will come together in my head, and I’ll spend 6 hours straight coding/testing/coding etc. The development time includes that “slacking” time, because that’s how my brain works – I stuff the design process into the back of my brain, distract my self with something unrelated, then type it out when the design data comes together.

      If I don’t have tickets to do while the thinking is happening, then I’m reading random stuff on the web.

      At least I’ve trained my brain not to want to write it all out at 3 am.

    9. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Much of the time when I’m at work phones are put away for safety (I work outdoors), but if the conversation turns to something that you want to Google or you want to make a note of something that’s generally not a big deal. But not counting break time I’d usually spend 10-15 minutes at most online. If I worked in an office it would probably be an entirely different story.

  5. Chicken Situation*

    At a previous job, I was drowning in work. (A department audit proved I had more work than could be done in a 40-hour week, but they wouldn’t authorize OT and would punish me for not finishing.) A coworker spent his entire day playing games and searching for new jobs. Against my better judgment, I mentioned this to our director, who was notoriously biased, and asked if that person could be assigned to help me. I was told that he was getting his work done and as long as he did, the department didn’t care how he spent the rest of his time. (?!?!?!)

    When that coworker left, it was discovered that he wasn’t actually getting his work done; for several months, he’d just been shoving it all in a drawer.

    1. Yvette*

      I hope you did not end up getting stuck with it. If you did not, and it ended up causing them issues, as far as I am concerned you were totally justified in doing an internal “Happy Dance”!

        1. Yvette*

          Good! Please tell me the director who said “that he was getting his work done and as long as he did, the department didn’t care how he spent the rest of his time.” felt some sort of pain.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I have to wonder if someone really burnt him bad, that’s behavior I’d only expect to see from someone who was done with the company for a personal issue! Being lazy and slacking is one thing but job searching AND stuffing everything in a drawer, woahzah! This sounds like something I would have done if my job search wasn’t as quick and satisfying the last time, when I found myself in a toxic waste dump.

      I’m shocked he put it in a drawer and didn’t just shred it or something even more incredibly heinous!

      1. Chicken Situation*

        Actually, his new job was in a different department of the same company. I left shortly after he changed departments, so I don’t know how it worked out.

  6. Alex*

    I have three slacker coworkers and can confirm it is so frustrating. In my case, they have been slackers for years and I’ve just rolled my eyes and done my work (and theirs, sometimes!). My boss SHOULD know…she knows that I end up doing their work…but she doesn’t connect the dots that the fact that I always have to finish their work means that they are slacking off. And now she is making this big fuss over the fact that she needs to hire another person because our project list is going to grow.

    There are so many other departments in my company that *actually* need to hire more people, it frustrates me to no end that my department, in which people spend all day on YouTube, may get the new hire. It’s ridiculous. And because it doesn’t really affect me all that much I don’t feel like I can bring it to my boss…she would definitely take it as my second guessing her management.

    1. Joy*

      If you end up doing their work, it seems like it is affecting you! Or if not, there can’t be enough work for 4 people to begin with. What would happen if you stopped finishing their work for them?

      1. Alex*

        I finish their work because my boss asks me to, or she tells them to ask me to.

        I also do a bunch of extra projects that they don’t do. I still get it all done with no overtime (not like we get paid overtime, but I don’t work weekends or stay late very often).

        Truth be told it would be fine with 3 people. My boss believes that we need 5 because she believes everyone is working at capacity because they miss deadlines.

    2. TardyTardis*

      I remember trying to do all the payables in one department by myself, and then the new hire became the Golden Person critiquing my work and carefully pointing out all my mistakes to the boss, who was clearly in love with her. Somehow the boss didn’t notice that I had to take over half the new person’s work and apparently didn’t care about the new person’s mistakes (I didn’t get to train the new person, even though I like to think the new person might have learned something, oops). It took intervention from the grandboss to resolve the situation.

  7. mamma mia*

    Alison wrote “if you can’t point to any real impact the colleague’s behavior is having on you, that’s a sign it might not be worth escalating.” I agree with the broader point but I take issue with the word “might” and I would have gone with a stronger, “it is absolutely not worth escalating and you might need to work on reigning in your nosiness.” There is no need to report someone for something that doesn’t even affect you; that is snitching and in my opinion, morally unacceptable behavior.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Sometimes it affects the team/organization but not you directly and is something you should still flag for a manager (like someone alienating clients or hiding the fact that they’re missing key deadlines that will affect your team’s ability to get renewed funding, or so forth).

      1. mamma mia*

        But if someone on my team is missing deadlines or messing up in some way, that’s the manager’s job to notice and take any action, not mine. Frankly, I’m not going to do a manager’s job for them unless I’m getting paid manager money.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          That’s certainly your call, but it’s in no way morally unacceptable to say “hey, there’s a problem here that’s affecting our team’s effectiveness.” And managers don’t see everything.

    2. SenseANDSensibility*

      I work for an organization that stresses ethics & integrity, and regularly reminds us to report any behavior by others that could be considered unethical or lacking integrity – even if it doesn’t impact us as individuals directly. This includes time theft, lying, harassment, etc. It’s all great in theory but in reality, it’s very tough for someone to report someone else they work with, for fear of retaliation (and yes we have a no-retaliation policy too…again, in theory). But they’re wanting to cut out and catch those people who are slackers and harming the company productivity and image. I agree with the policy/practice, it’s just too hard to implement without repercussions to the person doing the reporting.

      1. mamma mia*

        I actually think that sounds awful in theory and I’m unsure why you support it, even putting the retaliation part aside. I would never even think of reporting a colleague for time theft; the very idea of doing that makes me extremely uneasy. If it doesn’t affect me and it doesn’t affect other employees (like say, harassment), then I would keep my mouth shut.

        If a company wants to “cut out” those who harm it’s image or productivity, they can do that on their own damn time; I’m not helping. There is no way I’m going to do anything that would possibly negatively impact my fellow employees if their “lack of integrity” is only going to effect the company. My allegiance (strong word, but the only one that fits) is to my own sense of ethics and to my fellow employees, not to my manager and definitely not to my company.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        Yikes, you shouldn’t need this kind of policy in place. It should be a given that if you see someone harassing others or doing something inappropriate, you should alert the correct person. Driving it home and constantly bringing it up, makes the place feel like a police state, where you are constantly under the watchful of eye of everyone around you.

        The best thing to do is create an atmosphere of trust among everyone, that way you know people feel comfortable and safe reporting issues that they may see. Instead of just driving home the “Our policy is for you to be hawk eying your peers but BTW don’t waste company time doing that, that’s time theft!”

      3. Massmatt*

        I loathe the term “time theft” and note that the mega corporation which uses the term obsessively has been cited many times for WAGE theft where OT is denied and hours worked are underreported.

        Your org seems to think they are promoting ethics and integrity but really it seems they are outsourcing managerial responsibilities to non managing employees. “Downsourcing”?

      4. Kelly*

        I work in the public sector and in theory, ethics and integrity are very important. In practice, I can’t recall ever having to do any ethics training in the 6 years I’ve been here. It’s a similar situation with sexual harassment and workplace hostile and intimidating behavior- a great deal of talk and surface compliance, but tougher to report and have any follow through, including actual consequences for those found to be perpetrators and people who report being victims often are not taken seriously.

        I have one colleague who was falsifying his time sheets for several years until our boss finally put her foot down and told him he had to be in at his scheduled times year round, even during times when classes aren’t in session. He still has a very flexible definition of what being on time means, but now at least he’s not 45 minutes late multiple times a week. I’m sure if she really wanted to start disciplinary procedures over the years of coming in late, she could have. However, it’s really tough to fire people once they’ve past their probationary period, requiring a specific series of steps to be followed. It took months to do all the steps properly for the few people that have been known to be fired.

        The more recent hire is going to be a tougher case for the boss because she’s salaried and my boss doesn’t know how to deal with her supreme overconfidence in her own abilities. Most salaried staff routinely work well past their 40 hours a week, this woman barely manages to get in 30 hours. That’s not a good look for someone who spends a decent amount of time hustling and promoting herself as future leadership material. I’m hopeful that some people higher up can see through her own self promotion and not promote her beyond her current role.

    3. Temperance*

      Eh, I’m fine with “snitching”, then, I guess. I think it’s “morally unacceptable” to be lazy and let your colleagues pick up your slack.

      1. mamma mia*

        I was specifically referring to Alison’s quote about if the would-be-snitch could not find a way in which the slacker’s behavior was directly impacting them. Having to pick up a coworker’s slack is an example of a direct impact, so if that were the case, I wouldn’t be opposed to telling the manager. I wouldn’t do it but I don’t find it morally egregious.

    4. Maria Lopez*

      What is morally unacceptable is someone knowing no one will tell on him/her and then proceeding with lazy, unethical, morally wrong (you name it) behavior. The whole “snitch” thing needs to be rethought, because that just lets people get away with what they shouldn’t.
      In a social context I usually say MYOB, but in a work context that can affect the company’s (and by default, your) reputation, I say notify whomever should be notified and after that leave it alone.

      1. mamma mia*

        If someone’s lazy or immoral behavior is somehow hurting the company, that person’s MANAGER can take care of it. If the manager doesn’t do their job, that’s not my problem. I’m not going to rat my fellow coworkers out for “slacking” if it doesn’t affect my ability to get a paycheck. I guess I can see how some of the things people are complaining about in this thread (a coworker going on the internet all day, taking long lunches, “time theft”) can, possibly maybe, in some far stretch of the imagination, affect the company’s reputation but I am not my company and their reputation really isn’t my problem to solve. So I strongly disagree with you stating that a company’s reputation is “by default” an employee’s reputation. I would literally never prioritize the company over my fellow workers. No matter how lazy or unproductive they are

  8. Seriously?*

    I am a top performer on my team of 5, and we have one slacker who really brings us all down. Because not only is he a slacker, he’s a *complaining* slacker. He came in today, and asked out loud if it’s 4:30 yet, and groans about having to stay until then (he’s been out for treatment and then worked part-time, this his first week back full-time). The complaining came after he talked about getting up at 5:30 am to go to the gym! His priorities are all about him, and work just doesn’t fit in with his schedule. I have learned to ignore, ignore, ignore, but it’s still demoralizing to have a good work ethic and have to listen to him bitch while doing nothing. He should have never been hired (I was not part of the hiring process), and should have been put on a PIP years ago before his illness that now has my manager’s hands tied because of his medical issues. If she has documentation of him not doing what he’s been hired, and being paid (well, I might add) to do, then what is the problem?

  9. irene adler*

    My boss has a policy- he want folks busy 75-80% of the time.
    He doesn’t care what folks do the rest of the time. Internet surfing, making calls, homework, etc. – not an issue.

    His logic: if we need to do extra work (like during a rush or crunched deadline), the manpower to do this is there (the 20-25% part).

    There is one person who complains about this. Thinks folks should be busy 100% of the time. She is ignored. This is the one nice thing about having a boss who is also part-owner of the company.

    1. ArtK*

      Operations research shows that your boss is right. If most resources are 100% utilized, there’s something seriously wrong. There’s no slack to make up for the synchronization of different steps — work-in-progress will backlog quickly. There’s no capacity for unplanned work.

      1. only acting normal*

        Yup! It’s lesson one of workflow modelling in operational research.
        If you build a work model of 100% utilisation based on average demand and model a varying input, the moment demand exceeds average you start building up a backlog. If you keep running the model you end up with an infinite backlog that you can never catch up with.

    2. Anonyby*

      I wish I had your boss. My team was pushed to an average of 130%, and then one coworker (rightfully) left for another job. I’ve been shunned by my boss and official teammates since I refused to take up some of former-coworker’s work because I needed to start doing extra of my own to prepare for a week-long vacation. (And then would be gone, and am now catching back up.) I also told my boss straight up that I thought the team workload was too high for its size and that there was no slack for things like vacations and sick time.

      Manager still hasn’t told me that she hired someone (and she did before I left—new coworker told me herself and that she was to start training the week I was off).

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I went from places that ran on less than skeleton crews and it was awful, no good, very bad to places that respected employees need to have time to breathe, it helps them also not loath coming to work, combats burnout, etc. It’s lovely to be able to have company sponsored functions and everyone has the luxury of taking time from their work to enjoy a darn company funded meal together as well. Unlike the stories we hear around here =(

      Your boss is right, you need that reserve tank for exactly that reasoning. It’s worth spreading a job out to three people, when really two people could do it if they put their noses down and never looked up. Also it allows for someone to be sick or just simply having a bad day, where their productivity is bottomed out because of a rough patch in life, etc.

      I’m glad he’s part owner as well and has that philosophy, I regularly explain this to owners or execs, most thankfully will listen to my stories in horror and never want to repeat them. They like making money and hate the idea of constantly hiring due to high turnover, so that’s a plus too!

    4. Miss Pantalones en Fuego*

      Can I work with you? That sounds very smart. My industry has a tendency to push us to unrealistic deadlines and then treats us like crap when we can’t meet them because reality.

  10. Liz*

    Ugh. I have a slacker, but she’s my BOSS. Well, for another week anyway. Somehow, she got a lateral transfer to a position where someone is retiring. Different group, but under the same VP. Doing stuff she has no knowledge or experience in. My immediate boss and I have been trying to figure out how this all came about, since it seems to be very hush hush.

    But her slacking consists of doing ALL her personal stuff during working hours, since she has “fun” obligations after work. So she routinely takes multi-hour lunches, and many times isn’t available when something comes up, needed her review and approval. She will also take time during the say, and not put down any PTO (that we’re aware of but think so since she ALWAYS has “use it or lose it” time at the end of the year), when she should. And leaves early, comes in a late, frequently. Our company is flexible and we’re all salaried, but MOST of us try not to abuse the privilege we have of being able to come in late or leave early once in a while.

    And our current director is very hands off so he has no clue, as was the same for our previous one. I think the expectation is if she gets her work done, then no one is policing her “time” in or out of the office. It’s going to be interesting when she moves over, since her new supervisor cannot stand her. At all. and knows all about her shenanigans, so we shall see how it goes.

    1. Fortitude Jones*

      It’s going to be interesting when she moves over, since her new supervisor cannot stand her. At all.

      Maybe that’s why she was moved. It’s possible that TPTB knows she’s a slacker, and they want to see if her new supervisor will either light a fire under her or cut her loose.

      1. I'd Rather Not Say*

        We had a similar situation: slacker boss, boss’s boss non-confrontational and wouldn’t address the known and obvious slacking. After a consultant was brought in by the company president, both soon retired. Transfer could be a way of moving your boss out (of the company).

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      My first job ever was with a supervisor like that. I still love her dearly on a personal level but she was so burnt out and over it that she stopped doing just about everything, except our yearly costing/bidding, which was the only time I ever saw her focused on work.

      The good thing was that she was one of those bosses that still had to get the work done, so guess who got to do it. *waves* And the owner eventually figured it out, since I was always the one bringing him what he was requesting as well, she didn’t even try to cover up that I could do everything myself [at 20 years old, ffs]. So there’s a silver lining there if you can find a job under someone who is good at giving you on the job training to take their jobs in the end.

      We both quit that place though because it eventually went bankrupt.

      It does sound like your boss is being managed out, since it’s a lateral move and not a promotion, under a boss that won’t be such a hands off person and will quickly terminate her when having to deal with her nonsense.

  11. Foon*

    While we’re on the subject, has anyone ever been reprimanded for reading this blog on the clock?

    1. Art3mis*

      Not this blog specifically but I’ve been reprimanded for “spending too much time on the internet” which included this blog. I had nothing to do despite begging for more work. So I’m not sure what else I was supposed to do.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      No. Not for this or anything else in between, I used to spend all my time on celebrity gossip blogs prior to stumbling onto the AAM empire.

      Granted, I get everything done immediately, my boss is always shocked how fast things get done and we don’t babysit each other.

    3. Mr. Shark*

      This is management training!

      What not to do and what to do when you are a manager.

    4. Dr Wizard, PhD*

      I had a former manager who I did *not* get along with tell me that one of my colleagues had said I was spending time on ‘non-work websites’.

  12. Jane Smith*

    We have a boss who gives us the work of another co worker who’s behind and tells us to do it for them.
    It doesn’t just happen now and then, or with different people. The same people (me and Sally) get told to shoulder the extra work from the same one person (Lucinda). It’s incredibly unfair and frustrating.
    We’ve talked to our boss about it and she just says the work should be evenly distributed.
    Thing is, the work IS evenly distributed – it’s just that Lucinda always falls behind.
    I just got asked to take on extra work from Lucinda again this week and I refused because I’d been off work ill myself and was busy catching up with my own stuff. My boss said I could have two weeks to catch up my own work then had to help Lucinda with her deadlines.
    Insert very grumpy face here.

    1. irene adler*

      Too bad you can’t divide up the pay checks in a similar manner.
      You do the majority of the work = you get the majority of the pay.

    2. Massmatt*

      Boss says the work should be evenly distributed yet he has 2 people doing a 3rd person’s work—can he not hear himself?! The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one!

  13. Midwest writer*

    Not gonna lie. I surf the internet a lot while at work. But I’m a reporter — some days are so busy I have no down time, other days I need to be tied to my desk to do proofing but may not have done interviews for the next week’s articles, so I may not have much to write yet. Different newspapers approach this differently, but my current job and last job had a very “get enough stories for the paper each week and we don’t care if you aren’t 100 percent on task.” I have chafed in other past jobs where you’re supposed to look busy all the time, and eventually had to find ways to slow myself down. Sometimes co-workers would complain, but my bosses always came back to me and compared to my byline count to the complainer’s … I always had more. Longer stories, too. Good bosses know when an employee is productive and on task … and having that employee available, even if they’re goofing off some, means you can call on them when things get hectic and you know they’ll pick up the slack.

  14. voyager1*

    That is a good article. But it can be boiled down to this. If you have an employee who slacks or doesn’t do his work or etc and the manager won’t do anything. You don’t have an a coworker problem anymore you have a manager problem. If there are avenues to get the manager to fix the issues you have to decide if it is worth it. If there are no avenues for you, time to move on.

  15. Yeah*

    Looking up mansions on Zillow is part of my job. Sometimes things aren’t always what they seem.

  16. SenseANDSensibility*

    I work with a world-class slacker. Long lunches, disappears for hours doing personal things, hardly does any work when they are in the office, constant web surfing, do any use PTO for their personal time off…and they’re pulling a 40-hr salary for maybe 10 hrs of work each week. I brought it up to the boss early on when the person first started, but the manager apparently decided it wasn’t serious enough to warrant any action. It’s demoralizing and frustrating when you are the one working extra hard & actually earning your salary, displaying integrity, to see people getting paid for virtually doing nothing (& getting away with it). It’s an unfair world.

    1. Engineer Girl*

      I had this at work. I finally told my manager I refused to do overtime to compensate for people who couldn’t be bothered to put in their 40 hours. And I held fast. I did my own work, but refused to do theirs.
      It worked because I had over 40 hours a week of my own work (so could never get to theirs without overtime)
      I knew I succeeded when our group missed several milestones because the others weren’t getting their jobs done. My manager complained, at which point I pointed out that I had finished my part of the job.
      Then, and only then, did I see change. They were still terrrible but at least the 3 hour lunches stopped.

  17. Rumbakalao*

    Ugh. This topic stresses me out so much , because sometimes people don’t realize that your coworkers aren’t slacking if there really is nothing for them to do. The examples in the article are fine, if they’re clearly doing sub-par work. But what about when they have no work to do? When they’ve asked for more and are told there isn’t anything they can or should work on? When their position is inherently one that allows for a lot of free time? I’ve been in that position more than once, and there’s only so much you can do to look busy.

  18. Megasaurusus*

    I had a slacker co-worker once who drove me and our other team member bonkers. We came in early, worked extra hard, did other people’s work, whatever it took to make sure everything ran smoothly. She came in ate breakfast on the clock, surfed the internet, ran errands on lunch, then would take an hour in office to eat. At the time it seemed outrageous and no one in management seemed to care. It completely demotivated me and my colleague, till we slowed down to match her pace, began eating breakfast at work, lunch at our desks and enjoying our lunch hour, surfing the internet here and there. . . and no one cared or noticed. Work still eventually got done, deadlines were met and we stopped burning ourselves out. I learned a lot from my workplace’s slacker, and a lot more about myself from the experience.

    I know it’s not always the case, but sometimes the slacker is intuiting the work culture better than the self proclaimed rock star employee. Especially if you’ve always had junior roles or transitioned in from service work, where the work ethic is radically different. This seems especially true to me in non profits where the work pace is ebb and flow and where managers care more about results than the appearance of always being busy.

    1. HB*

      Thanks for this! I think there is always a balance and every office is different. But I feel like I am the rockstar employee AND the slacker. I always have a ton on my plate including high-level stuff and I’m working hard to get it all done. But I also take my time and will take internet breaks, long lunches, come in a little late etc. when I need it. Otherwise I would totally burn out.

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      There was a letter in Carolyn Hax’s advice column a few weeks ago, where the LW was habitually working herself to the brink of exhaustion, late nights, weekends, never taking vacation, the whole nine yards; and she wrote in because she was annoyed at a new coworker who would “swan out the door at 5:30”. Hopefully that LW is now moving towards a better work-life balance after she was told by CH and multiple commenters that swanning out the door after your work day is over is perfectly okay!

  19. IrenaJ*

    I could have been the slacker that people complained about. In my defense, my boss didn’t like me (for reasons unknown to me) and he apparently preferred to give my superstar coworker all the great assignments while I literally sat there with nothing to do. It was embarrassing, especially since she was junior to me. I did try talking to my boss many, many times about it to no avail. Eventually I just decided I wasn’t going to beg for work anymore and just sat there reading the internet. I know my coworker resented me when she was so busy, but I actually resented her, because I felt she could help simply by telling the boss she already had more assignments than she could possibly handle. So she struggled along drowning in an avalanche of work and I sat there completely bored out of my mind, until I eventually quit a year later. So I guess I just wanted to say things aren’t always what they seem. I was a supposed slacker who would have preferred to be kept very busy!

    1. Stained Glass Cannon*

      Were you in my last company? Because that was exactly what my previous boss did – hoarded work and gave the best assignments to an intern she liked, so that the two of them were constantly swamped while the actual staff sat and twiddled our thumbs. We all looked like slackers because we ended up surfing the Internet half the day and taking long lunches, but most of us would have killed to actually have work to do!

      (For a particularly unpleasant side effect, most of us were so bored that when any scrap of work came our way we jumped all over it and finished in record time…then got reamed out for being too fast, because apparently that meant we weren’t putting our full effort in. I totally do not miss that workplace.)

  20. Seriously?*

    I think what we need are tips to not let the slacker get to us and to find ways to bring their non-work to light so it catches the negative attention it deserves. I have absolutely become far more quiet and don’t volunteer like I once did, it’s all about self-preservation until I leave in a few years.

    1. Close Bracket*

      Direct your attention to your own work and what you need to get done. If you find your self thinking about your co-worker in ways that don’t relate to your own work, you don’t need to follow that train of thought. Direct your thoughts somewhere else. If the coworker doesn’t affect you, cut off all trains of thought regarding them. If the coworker does affect you, pay attention only to the trains of thought regarding what you need from them and cut off all the others. Leave all judgement out when escalating gaps in what you should be getting from them to the attention of anyone else.

      With regards to the actual co-worker, change your perception of them from “lazy m****f**** who undermines me at all turns” to “amusing and sometimes astonishing anthropological exhibit.” Work on regarding them with detachment.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I had to learn to ignore them.

      It’s important to frame it in your mind as something you cannot fix and isn’t your problem. You can do just so much, in terms of making sure it’s known by the powers that be that this is happening. Then it’s off your shoulders.

      I wouldn’t pick up their slack unless I’m flying a banner that says “Dolly cannot keep up, therefore I’m doing it for her.” kind of thing.

      In the end, it often is to your benefit if they’re not absolutely tanking your team or getting a share in the praise for what the team is doing. Since that’s one less person to compete with for a promotion or for a fun project you want to be apart of.

      I’ve also been the last one standing a couple of times. After my first job, I did some temping to get my feet more wet, since I was still extremely young and a lot of places wanted more than 14 months of experience that I had from that first job. I was put on a team project with 9 other temps, plus a swing shift team of 3 or 4. As the project went on, people started being dropped like flies for various reasons. Usually due to them calling in too frequently. In the end, it went to a part-time gig to wind down the project. I was the one who ended up the last person working that part-time gig and they put me on another part-time temp assignment in the same organization’s accounting department.

      Both departments begged me to apply for openings that were being posted as I was finishing up the contracts. I peaced out, I hated that organization and the work but everyone was great otherwise. It also made me a rockstar that got immediate placements right up until they found me my temp-to-hire that I stayed at for over a decade a few months later. That was the job that catapulted me into what I am now.

      So honestly, it’s all about thinking about yourself and letting others slack and drag their feet around! That’s on them, they don’t get very far if they’re not doing very well, you know?

      Or it may be a sign that you don’t belong somewhere, that is your sign to find somewhere that you’re happier with.

  21. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

    I’m terrible at looking busy and I know it. My productivity would honestly go down if I tried to pretend to be doing something worklike every minute of every 8-hour work day. I’d get exhausted and distracted very quickly if I could not take breaks. People have complained to my managers in the past. A teammate who sat behind my back at work once vaguebooked about a “laziest coworker”. I get things done and do good work though. Haven’t had any complaints about me lately, probably because a lot of people operate in the same way in my field and I imagine it must’ve finally become evident to the powers that be. Meanwhile, endless chats about personal stuff during work hours are and have always been socially acceptable in the workplace. It is what it is, life isn’t fair. On the subject of the letter, I don’t think I have ever met an intentional slacker; at least in my US career. I’ve seen either people who honestly try hard, but are struggling, or people like me who need frequent short breaks in order to be able to think. I used to get my best design ideas for work on walks around the office campus – not something I did every day, but when faced with an especially difficult problem, I’d go on a walk and come back with a solution – but had to stop doing that, because the office culture in my workplace has changed and is now very “butt in chair”, and my walks would definitely now be seen as slacking. Oh well, my second-best ideas are also pretty good.

    1. TheOtherLiz*

      I like to take non-internet breaks because it helps me reset between tasks, reward myself for accomplishing things, etc – like walk breaks, or needlepoint, or sometimes taking a few minutes to read on my couch. Have I overheard coworkers who don’t like me grumbling “wish I had time to read a book, but I actually have work to do”? Yes. But my boss doesn’t seem concerned, so I just brush off not having everyone like me. I know full well that everyone takes breaks at work – especially those of us with desk jobs who manage our own time. And the same people who think we’re slackers for taking actual breaks are scrolling through twitter in meetings. What matters, though, is whether our breaks are hurting our ability to do – and keep – our jobs. Otherwise, I try not to worry what others think.

  22. Anon Accountant*

    My bosses just demoted a supervisor who allowed several employees to slack off and do very little work and ignore deadlines. 2 were customer service reps who would hang out in his office, gossip and ignore a backed up phone queue. This was the first day but their new supervisor is a former peer. We will see how it goes!

  23. NoLongerYoungButLotsWiser*

    First, two lessons. The legitimate slackers actually eventually got their due. I just ignore … and do my job. then, the second lesson – learning to say no and manage my own time so I don’t overcommit.

    Slacker at job 1: basically stealing time and resources. Company was reimbursing his night MBA – that was a great perk. He, however, did his homework every afternoon, door shut, had the admin asst word process/ spell and grammar check his papers (it was the late 80s). Did the long workout at the company gym in the mid-morning, before or after any meetings with his higher ups. I think he worked less, than 2 hours a day. I left after he hit on me…but before I left, he asked me to interview and hire my own replacement… I can’t say I picked the most competent person off the list… ROFLOL. But without me and the good admin assistant (who also left – she got to pick out her own replacement too)… he sank like a rock. There was eventually an outside consulting firm brought in to assess the work/processes, and he was “sadly” cut
    Slacker at job #2.
    Co-worker insisted he was very overworked with 2 types of teapots running on the product lines. I had 17 of them and was responsible for learning about all new forms and bringing them into the manufacturing process… as well as maintaining oversight of all current ones.
    His time was spent surfing the web, fantasy sports league, planning family vacations, and planning/doing his kids coaching. (I’d see stuff daily on the PRINTER, and sat in a nearby then-tall cube, so I -and only I – could see what he was doing.)
    I was burning out …. but then we got new leadership. They DEMOTED slacker 2 levels. From what I’ve heard, he still doesn’t do anything.
    Eventually when I moved on, it took 2 people to replace me (for the 19 product lines).

    I am not proud of how dysfunctional I am to not say no enough. I am learning a lot from this blog and have started saying “Please help prioritize the existing work, and choose what won’t get done if I start doing X.”

    On the other hand, I admit I’m MUCH faster than most and truly enjoy being challenged – problem solving keeps me entertained. So I have to watch the ADD and not move on to the cool new things while I still have work left on the old to close them.

    Why do I ignore the slackers around me? I have to own my own responsibility and behavior first. Still working on that.

  24. Not that Kat*

    I have had that one slacker coworker who drags down the whole team. I brought it up with my boss several times for about a year and a half, nothing ever got done because the two were BFFs ever since the slacker got hired. I’m now leaving that job after warning my boss that I would do so about three months ago. Other members of my team are job hunting, too, because of the clear favoritism.
    I actually handed over a public-facing task to the slacker before I left that usually took me around 15 minutes. It’s been a week and the task has not yet been done, probably because the slacker is always “so busy he doesn’t know where to even start”…

  25. wanderlust*

    I’m the type that basically works a longer day and 2-3 hours of it are spent “slacking” at a workplace where there’s flexibility and work from home is allowed. A couple hours are spent goofing off during a 9-10 hour day and some work comes home to be done from my couch where I can more well focus on the specific tasks I choose to take along. I produce a better work product this way and the managers are on board. Of course, it depends on the workplace but be wary to expend political capital running to the manager if you don’t know what’s happening after hours because you’ll just end up looking like you can’t MYOB.

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