We’ve all had to deal with lazy coworkers at some point in the organization or team where we work.
The presence of these types of coworkers can be a constant headache and cause for concern to you.
This is because of the negative impact they have on your productivity and more especially job satisfaction.
Hard work is one of the most endearing qualities that employers seek in prospective employees.
It is one of the qualities that make you stand out in whatever organization you work, and can make you a valuable asset to employers.
However, when you have this excellent quality but have to work with people who are the opposite, it can get frustrating.
Imagine going head over heels on carrying out your tasks and responsibilities, whereas someone on your team is not trying.
Lazy coworkers might prefer to spend most of the day texting, playing games, gisting, or social networking.
Worse still, some lazy coworkers might even spend more hours of work sleeping or napping.
It is important to consider how their attitude impacts your work and if something needs to be done.
Especially if the actions or inactions of lazy coworkers are directly affecting your work input and/or output, you need to know how to deal with them.
It could be more frustrating if you have to work extra hours or a bit more harder just to cover for a lazy coworker on your team.
If this is the situation you find yourself in, then this article is for you.
It will show you how to professionally deal with lazy coworkers, maintaining your joy and good rapport in the process.
How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers – What are Lazy Coworkers?
Laziness is simply lacking the inclination to exert oneself or involve oneself in an activity.
This is so even though the person has the ability and capability to carry out that activity.
A lazy person is simply not interested in doing work that should be done and might make flimsy excuses for that.
Even if they should work, they are unwilling to expend the needed energy to give it their best work.
Instead, they prefer to do very little and spend more time indulging in social activities or simply doing nothing at all.
Lazy coworkers can prove to be a cause for concern for other employees at work, as their attitude affects teamwork.
Having lazy coworkers around you can affect your quality of work and put undue stress on you.
Lazy coworkers can also make your work difficult as you might need to care for your responsibilities and theirs as well.
Because of their lazy attitude, these employees might also be turning in low-quality work output.
This is because they do not give tasks the commitment and effort they deserve but prefer to take shortcuts.
You would learn more about these and other negative impacts of lazy coworkers in the work environment as we proceed.
This will stress the importance of learning how to deal with lazy coworkers.
In the meantime, let us look at some of the identifying signs of lazy coworkers, so you can quickly spot them at work.
How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers – Signs of Lazy Coworkers
Take a moment to think about your office, does anyone come to your mind when you think of lazy coworkers?
See if they fit one or more of the following signs that characterize lazy coworkers:
They are Always Stressed or Tired Without a Reason
One of the signs of lazy coworkers is that they always appear to be stressed or tired.
Well, being stressed out or tired is not a problem, as humans naturally feel this and need to rest.
But where the problem lies with lazy coworkers is that they usually do not have a reason why they are stressed.
Even if you ask them what the problem is, there seem to be no valid reasons but they just prefer to avoid their duties and leave them to others.
This is a glaring sign of laziness from coworkers with this attitude.
They Abandon Their Tasks and Responsibility for Others
You probably know of that coworker who has made it a habit to abandon his/her responsibility and find a way to push it to others.
They might openly give their tasks to others on basis of flimsy excuses on why they cannot do it.
Others are more subtle in the way they abandon their tasks, in that they find a way to avoid them while on a team and have others pick them up.
This is a sign of laziness from your coworkers who have made it a habit to do this always.
They Have a Strong Dislike for Hard workers
We understand that you as a hard worker do not like lazy coworkers.
Well, the feeling is mutual.
Lazy coworkers do not like the idea of having hard workers around them, because these people are everything they are not.
They feel threatened with the fact that there are people more hardworking than they are and it doesn’t just sit well with them.
Lazy coworkers might even conclude that those who are hardworking are showing off or doing too much.
They might even try to minimize the achievements and efforts of the hard workers because they make them feel little.
This is another sign of lazy coworkers that you will need to keep an eye on.
They Rarely Stay At Their Desks
Because lazy coworkers know that sitting at their desks doing nothing will make it so obvious that they are lazying around.
So, sometimes they devise a more subtle way of showing their laziness which is walking around the office and not staying on their desks.
That way, they can avoid the tasks they have to complete and even put pressure on others to do it for them.
When you see coworkers who constantly do this without a genuine reason for being away from their desks, it is a sign of laziness.
They Take Too Many Breaks
Taking breaks at work is very important as it helps you to stay fresh and focused at work.
However, there is a limit to how many times you should take breaks at work.
Lazy coworkers are those who enjoy taking breaks, in fact much more than they do the work.
This time, they are taking a break to use the restroom, the next minute they are taking their lunch break.
Even before the end of the workday, they are still going to take a break to nap or have a siesta.
While all these things are not bad in themselves, lazy coworkers abuse this privilege and take it overboard.
They Always Find a Reason to Be Absent from Work
Chronic absenteeism is also another sign of laziness that you can observe from some coworkers.
A hard worker always looks forward to being at work, and rarely misses work unless there is a serious reason for that.
On the other hand, the lazy worker would do anything to avoid work, even if it means staying away from the office.
They might call in sick constantly, or look for other flimsy excuses to miss work and stay away.
Unless for genuine reasons, someone who misses work habitually might also be exhibiting a sign of laziness.
How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers – Harmful Effects of Having Lazy Coworkers
If you have the opportunity to choose who your coworkers are, what are the qualities that will rank highest on your list?
Most likely you will seek out people who are conscientious, dedicated, skillful, and of course hard working.
This is because you know the importance of having hard-working people around you and how it affects your work positively.
No one loves to have lazy coworkers, and that is understandable due to the following harmful effects they have:
Lazy Coworkers Increase the Workload of Others
One thing that having lazy coworkers do to others who are hardworking is that it increases their workload.
This is because the lazy coworkers have their way of neglecting tasks and even convincing others to carry their responsibilities.
If you have to deal with lazy coworkers often at work, it could make you do more than is necessary by way of work.
You would have to carry your workload and also carry those of the lazy coworkers.
And this can cause you stress and frustration.
It Reduces Quantity of Work Output/Productivity
Teamwork has been proven to be one of the effective ways to increase work output and productivity in the workplace.
That means when all employees come together and contribute their quota, the results are excellent.
It goes without saying that what 4 dedicated individuals will accomplish by way of work output would not be the same with 1 person.
Hence, when you have lazy coworkers who shy away from their responsibilities, it reduces what others can achieve by way of work quantity.
This affects productivity and output since the input is reduced due to laziness from some team members.
It Reduces the Quality of Work Output
Not only is the quantity of work output affected when there are lazy coworkers, but also the quality.
When you can focus on one task at a time, which is the task that you are used to and know so much about, you get better results.
However, when you are forced to multitask simply because some lazy coworkers are not doing their job, then it can affect the quality of what you do.
Projects are not executed with the proper level of efficiency and some tasks might be rushed.
All of these make the work output low in quality.
It Causes Frustration and Low Morale at Work
When there are lazy coworkers, everyone but the lazy staff will usually feel frustrated and have low morale at work.
This is because lazy coworkers leave tasks to others and might constantly fail to meet up deadlines.
This will in turn increase the stress level of those who are hardworking and cause them to lose their morale.
If something is not done to address the case of these lazy coworkers and do it quickly, it can cause you to lose job satisfaction.
It Can Affect Internal Relationship
The truth is that no one wants to be around lazy people, especially when they are your coworkers.
They simply make your work difficult and add to the stress you already feel from your workload.
Hence, this can affect your relationship with them, especially if they do not try to change their attitude towards work.
It can also begin to affect your relationship with your employers if they appear not to do anything about the situation.
Hardworking employees will not be happy seeing that lazy coworkers get away with their poor attitude towards work.
And they might begin to question their employers or managers, straining the relationship at work in the process.
How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers – Practical Steps
Now that we’ve successfully identified who lazy coworkers are, thanks to some of the obvious signs of this trait, it is time to know how to deal with them.
One thing you cannot do especially if you are an employee is to choose the people you want to work with.
Hiring and recruitment is the sole responsibility of your company’s HR, and you will need to know how to deal with those you find on your team.
It would also be wrong to leave an organization because you have lazy coworkers impeding your work and progress.
Hence, whether you are the owner of the business or an employee, here are some ways to deal with lazy coworkers without breaking a sweat:
Consider if there is a Need to Address it
While having lazy coworkers around can be very annoying and frustrating, to say the least, you need to know when to step in or be concerned.
You need to ask yourself if their attitude, actions, or inactions directly or indirectly impact your work and the organization.
True, doing so much and seeing others doing very little can make you feel aggrieved.
However, sometimes, these might not be in your team, your department or even influence your work and productivity.
In such a situation, you need to be careful before deciding to deal with it.
It might be the best decision to let them be if at all their actions do not affect you, your team, or the organization.
On the contrary, if one or more of these areas are affected, then you are under obligation to do something about it.
Understand if It’s a Problem of Laziness on Purpose or Being a Poor Fit
Before you can generally conclude that your coworkers are lazy, they must have shown this attitude consistently and also have the capacity to do more.
There are cases whereby some individuals give their best in certain tasks or departments but not so much in others.
This might be because they are not a good fit for the task or project that they’ve been given to execute.
Hence, they tend to drag their feet or avoid the tasks, not because they don’t want to do it but because they cannot.
It could be that when you give these people different tasks or projects, they do it more efficiently and excel at it.
Therefore, it is good for an employer and even an employee to find out if the problem is the coworkers being lazy or just not able to do the work, as it helps you know how best to deal with them.
Have the Conversation with Them Professionally
If you notice that the work attitude of lazy coworkers is impacting your work negatively, it is only right to let them know.
Call them and politely and professionally explain to them how their attitude is affecting your work.
Do not have this conversation in anger or as an attack on them.
Also, do not go straight into questioning their character or judging their work performance especially if you are not their supervisor.
This will only aggravate the issue and make it worse.
Instead, explain to them specific actions that make your work difficult and tactfully ask if they feel they can make adjustments.
You should take this step first before even taking the matter to your employers or a supervisor.
Be Empathetic -Consider Their Present Situation
Sometimes, you might have lazy employees that have not always been that way but just beginning to show signs of laziness gradually.
It might help to take a look at their situation and try to figure out what is wrong with them.
For example, did they just experience the loss of a loved one, battling with ill health, having financial difficulties e.t.c?
Some of these problems can sap one of their strengths, get them disconcerted and even depressed.
This can make them slow or become lazy in their work.
Having this understanding will help you to put yourself in their shoes and not be too hard on them.
Instead, you can make excuses for them and continue to manage them until they get better and stronger.
Get Evidence of Extreme Laziness for Escalation
There are times when dialogue with lazy coworkers might not get you the reaction or change you expect.
The laziness from coworkers might also be adversely affecting the quality of your work and the company you work for.
In such a situation, the best decision would be to escalate to the management.
But to make a valid point you will need to have documented evidence to prove that the coworker is lazy and the laziness is affecting your work and/or the company.
This would help the management to make an objective decision on correcting the problem.
How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers – Don’t Encourage Laziness
You can be a good colleague at work who always goes out of your way to do your work and even give a hand to others.
That is a good habit to cultivate.
However, do not allow, condone or encourage laziness from your coworkers directly or indirectly.
For example, always agreeing to carry out the tasks of lazy employees without valid reasons might be fueling this attitude of theirs.
You might also be encouraging laziness from coworkers if you are fond of covering up their lapses and mistakes.
You should have the back of your colleagues, as this is what teamwork is all about.
Nevertheless, do not get into a habit of ways agreeing to carry out the tasks of lazy employees.
Because this lets them feel relaxed with their responsibilities and hence get lazier.
Don’t Let Their Attitude Rub Off You
It can be hard to stay committed and hardworking when those around you appear to be playing around and enjoying themselves every day.
Laziness has a way of rubbing off others, and if you are not careful, you can find yourself also getting involved in their lazy activities.
Hence, you mustn’t allow these to affect you or change who you are.
Remember that your supervisor or the management are watching and your performance as an individual also matters.
Therefore, don’t get lazy too but always sit up, turn up and give it your best shot.
Offer Help and Guidance if Necessary
As earlier mentioned, sometimes the reason for laziness from some coworkers might not be an intention but a lack of knowledge and ability.
If this is the reason, then you can do well to offer your help and guidance to such coworkers.
This is also an effective way to deal with lazy coworkers and get them more efficient and hard-working.
Don’t Let Lazy Co-Workers Distract You
Lazy coworkers might spend the whole day moving from one desk to another chit-chatting and gisting on different subjects.
Some might spend time on their phones chatting or texting during work hours.
You need to stay on guard so they don’t distract you.
Remember that your work input is your sole responsibility and allowing lazy coworkers to distract you will only earn you the disapproval of your employer.
Talk to the Management
This is where the documentation we asked you to make in the section above comes in.
If lazy coworkers are adversely affecting your work and workplace productivity, then you might need to call the management’s attention to it.
Show them just how their laziness is negatively impacting the team, and ask for assistance to address the matter.
This should be your alternative option instead of gossiping or talking about the lazy coworkers with other staff.
Remember to make this your last resort though when dialogue and other measures seem not to work.
Final Remarks – How to Deal with Lazy Coworkers
If offered the chance to only work with hardworking coworkers, we know you will take it.
However, you need to learn how to deal with lazy coworkers because they are in every organization.
It is important to understand the reason for their laziness and how best to handle it.
While you might not be able to control or correct the attitude and actions of your coworkers in most cases, you can control yours.
Hence, try to be professional at all times, and do not let their laziness affect your work habits and productivity.