Help! I Work with Lazy Coworkers and My Boss Doesn't Notice


“I sometimes notice that my coworkers aren’t doing their jobs, but my manager doesn’t notice. What should I do?” – Ronald from Hoboken, NJ


When you show up to work and give your best effort, it can be really frustrating when you see someone not putting in the same energy — especially if it means you have to do extra work to compensate.
Before doing anything, try to look at the situation objectively. How much work time are your coworkers wasting? If it’s five or ten minutes every hour and it’s not negatively impacting you or the company, you may want to cut them some slack. Recent studies have shown that taking short mental breaks to talk with coworkers or check the internet actually increases overall productivity. However, if your coworkers’ behaviors are negatively impacting you or the company you work for, it’s time to take action.
Avoid doing their work. If you find yourself picking up the slack when your coworkers don’t do their jobs, the first thing you need to do is stop. Concentrate on the work you were hired to do and if these colleagues ask you to cover their work, find a way to politely decline. One of two things will happen: your coworkers will either increase their productivity or your manager will notice the decreased work getting done.
Keep a record. Over the course of a few weeks, keep a running record of instances where you see people not doing their jobs. If you find yourself having to compensate for them by increasing your own work, be sure to note that as well. Having these details will help you make your case should you choose to take this up the ladder.
Talk with your coworker first. If there’s a single coworker slacking off, consider talking to him or her privately. Be careful not to seem accusatory or confrontational – explain calmly how his or her behavior is impacting you and also be open to hearing his or her side of the story. There may be something going on in the person’s life outside of work that is causing him or her to lose focus.
Speak privately with your manager. Your supervisor wants what’s best for the company and, if you’ve proven yourself to be a good employee, is invested in your success there. Schedule a private meeting and bring a copy of any records you’ve kept of your coworker’s behavior. Avoid getting heated; simply present the facts and how they have impacted your ability to do your job.
If your manager doesn’t see a problem with your coworker’s behavior (or refuses to take action) and the situation is negatively impacting you, it may be time to look for another position. Good companies take their workers and productivity seriously, and an employer that doesn’t act on your concerns may not be one you want work for in the long term. Best of luck to you in resolving the situation.