How To Deal With A Lazy Co-Worker

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

PHR Certified

We have all encountered that type of co-worker at some point or another. The one who seems to do the bare minimum amount of work in the least amount of time possible. We might say things like "how is it fair?" or "I wish my job was that easy".

But, it is important to realize that "laziness" is a subjective idea. How can you tell if a co-worker is really shirking his/her work and responsibilities? If you feel that they are, how can you handle working with them?

Be Realistic

Does this co-worker infuriate you because they come in right at 8:30 am, take an hour long lunch, and leave right at 5 pm? Do you often come in early, work through lunch, and only leave when the workload for the day is done?

Kudos to you if you put in the extra hours at your office, but realize it’s not required. The first step in dealing with a co-worker you see as less than dedicated is to take a serious look at your own practices. How everyone approaches their workload differs greatly. It’s impossible for you to know what that employee does when he/she leaves the office. There may be family responsibilities that demand they keep the standard office hours at all times and prevents them from coming in early like you or staying late. While you may choose to stay late to finish your work, it’s possible your co-worker logs back in later in the evening to ensure it gets done.

If after taking stock of your own expectations hasn’t lessened your perception of this co-worker’s laziness, have a casual conversation with him/her where you attempt to solicit advice. You might mention your own workload feeling overwhelming and ask how they manage to make it work within the office hours. Perhaps the co-worker will surprise you with a fantastic new system of task organization that you want to try, or perhaps they’ll confirm they log back in when at home to get things done. It might be that they confirm your suspicions – that they don’t have enough to do and all the time available to do it.

Don’t Take On Extra Work

If the co-worker happens to be a part of your team or works closely with you, make sure you’re not taking on additional tasks or duties that allows them to continue their behavior. If you’re in the proper position, don’t hesitate to delegate appropriate work to them in order to lighten your workload. Completing the work your co-worker can’t or won’t is enabling their behavior.

In some cases, perceived "laziness" may actually be an employee not having enough tasks to keep them busy. He/she might not know who to ask to have additional duties assigned or he might not care to. Sure, it’s still possible that the employee would prefer a light workload and an easy day. This is an even stronger case for not taking on tasks that employee should be completing, even if doing so makes things easier for you.

Hold your co-workers accountable for the work they’re tasked with. If you’re working on a project and your co-worker isn’t pulling his weight, be clear with your expectations but also be willing to lend direction if it’s needed. It’s possible your co-worker doesn’t have the required skills to complete the work and is unsure of who to ask for help. Don’t do the work for them but do be willing to serve as a resource.

Escalate Your Concerns

Complaining about your lazy co-worker at home to your family or to a colleague in the office isn’t going to stop the behavior. While venting might make you feel good, it’s just wasted energy as these people can’t affect change for you.

Find the right person to talk to in management or leadership about your concerns. If your supervisor is also this co-worker’s supervisor, your task may be much easier than you anticipate. Take the opportunity to discuss your workload with your supervisor during a scheduled one-on-one meeting. Discuss the concerns you may have regarding the division of work or the effect on team morale. Try to refrain from appearing as a "tattle tale" by indicating how this person’s behavior may be negatively affecting the team or the company.

Discussing your perception of another co-worker’s performance can be a sensitive situation. Don’t approach your supervisor to complain but instead to voice your concerns. There is a significant difference between the two and he will appreciate the professional way in which you approached the issue.

Above all, it’s important to not let the behavior of another colleague affect your work product. If you’re noticing a lazy co-worker, other people are too – including management! If you demand the best from yourself and hold your co-workers to the same standards, your dedication and work product will be noticed.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
LinkedIn

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees. Robin aims to empower the employees and managers she works with by providing coaching and counseling services.

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