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

Question

“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

Answer

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.

13 comments on “Help! I Work with Lazy Coworkers and My Boss Doesn’t Notice
  1. This article is wrong. Slackers are slackers, and will do anything to keep being slackers. Keep a video w/audio diary running on yourself; maybe a few shots of the slackers slacking numerous times in a day- or you will be the bunt of lies and all of a sudden you’re the slacker and will be told you are about to lose your job.
    Call in a person from another department to help you, then you have proof of what’s really going on.
    Slackers will, lie, cheat and steal. Bosses are idiots.

    1. Ditto. EXACTLY. I’m experiencing it now, and my previous co-worker who had been here THREE years basically doing the job himself for the last year, RESIGNED bc of our lying, distorting, crazy, wrongly accusatory, totally slacking new co-worker who knows doesn’t know SHIT from paper.
      Our boss is constantly in/out on personal biz, is accountable/reports to no one, leaves important client matters pending for weeks, and UNDERCUTS anything you try to improve, ignores LEGIT ongoing issues w/ that coworker and office issues, and actually TRASHtalks the resigned employee, and blames him (when he did nothing wrong) afterwards.
      It’s DISGUSTING, I’m disgusted…sorry ass state of affairs.
      We even complained to Board members, and it’s done NOTHING.
      When it’s that sort of climate of work, FUGGHETABOUTIT…Slackers WILL get away w/it, and boss is a worthless, horrible manager, too.

  2. I actually think this article has a lot of merit when it comes to dealing with lazy coworkers. For starters, you always want to try and handle the situation yourself while avoiding doing their work them, picking-up their slack and causing yourself lots of unnecessary work stress. If an assertive, honest and open conversation doesn’t lead to the desired results, it’s time to bring in the boss. I thought the steps laid-out here were excellent for those who are dealing with such challenges.

  3. I followed steps, confronted co-worker, went to management and reported this. Steps were promised and they are going to watch the slacker more carefully. But now co-workers are gossiping about me complaining to management and also getting the cold shoulder. The slacker is working harder but is no longer talking to me as before. Hard but had to be done. Why should I suffer year in and year out.

    1. If something happens to you, take it to court at that point. You have records. Prove it if needed. It sucks, but maybe find another job and unemotionally explain the situation.

  4. I totally agree that is article is a bunch of crap. I agree with JLondon, slackers are slackers and thats all there is to it. they dont care who picks up the work as long as the work gets done. If your not a slacker and your doing your work plus the slackers work, there is no guarantee that your boss will notice because they have their favorites and sometimes those pets are the slackers.

    1. I work with a 20 year old who knows everything and is the bosses pet and a true slacker. this also comes from his home life as he has never had responsibilities drilled into him. you know – one of those spoiled rotten kids who has everything given to him. now I have to work with him. my own sons are older than him and i do not need attitude from a co-worker – he is disrespectful and thinks the world owes him. he is making as much as i am and i have 25 years experience in the industry – something is wrong with this picture. have spoken with my manager on several occassions and he says he will speak with him – but this doesnt happen. They have to much in common and always just appear to be buddies. i am not going to loose my seniority or my job over him. just want to kick his ass and smash his cell phone – those kinds of threats worked with my own boys but i know i cant do it. all my coworkers support me 100% just wish my boss had the ba**s to warn him that his job could be terminated.

    2. I agree slackers will be slackers. I worked for a company in past that did nothing I talked to person and went to management a few times. I even asked for transfers wouldn’t move me.What it comes down to poor management.

  5. The article is actually spot on — you have a job to do. That is your first responsibility. Take records. Talk to them first (have the balls to bring it to them first instead of simple tattling). Then if they don’t adjust, you let your management know. Don’t know why people disagree so much with it. Slackers can change. Sometimes they just need a reason (threat).

  6. I used to work in a warehouse. No one had specific assigned tasks, there were just things that had to get done, we were expected to do them. I like to stay busy so I did. There were others who could apparently spend the whole day standing around chatting about trivialities. One day a co worker (who also stayed busy) asked me what we should do about
    three guys were who were doing nothing.
    I replied that my agreement when I was hired was that I would work a certain number of hours/day at a certain rate of pay. The agreement did not address whether any coworkers did any work or not. I put in my eight hours, made sure all critical tasks were completed and then I went home. It didn’t matter to me if anybody else ever hit another lick of work in their lives. I kept my part of the bargain. He looked at me as if I was crazy and asked why I would work harder so they could slack off? I told him I wasn’t working any harder. I just did my 8hrs and went home. What difference does it make to me if they get paid for doing nothing? I wasn’t the one paying them.

  7. What if it was the boss that’s not doing his job and leaving it for others to do? That’s how it is at my job.

  8. I’ve worked with a slacker for 2.5yrs now and although everyone is well aware of how slack he is, everyone just accepts it, which I think is crazy. I just get on with my work because its not my job to worry about who’s slack and who isn’t.

    I will say this though: aside from leaving early every single day, this slacker has minimum 1 smoke break every 45 mins (its no secret).

    Over a month and a half or so, it’s the equivalent of me having 1 full paid day off. That’s why its unfair!

    And if you’re wondering, no, I don’t smoke! Smoke breaks should be taken during the break time when everyone has a break.

    1. Yes! slackers will be slackers and have too many excuses from their assigned tasks. I been here in USA for 8 years and from my first job until my last job slackers stays behind me and the management has nothing to do with this kind of people.

      I did everything which doesn’t my assignment tasks to avoid staying until midnight, but the slackers just nothing happened and not worried about their work. All I have to do now is do my work and if I have extra time I help them , but I don’t want to finish their work as soon as I did before.

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