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Do Your Employees Do Personal Tasks During the Workday? Here's Why You Should Let Them

By Maurie Backman - Jun 15, 2019 at 10:33AM

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It may seem counterproductive, but it's actually a smart move for your business.

As an employer, it's natural to want to get the most out of your employees during the workday. The more productive they are, the more your business benefits. In fact, when you're on the management side, you may not take kindly to catching your employees engaging in personal tasks during the day, whether it's scheduling appointments, answering emails from friends, or confirming weekend plans. But actually, doing personal tasks during the workday is pretty common -- and also pretty necessary.

A good 77% of professionals today feel that personal activities have become a workday necessity, according to Captivate's Office Pulse new survey. (Those elevator and lobby displays you see in big office buildings? That's what Captivate does.) If your policy is to discourage workers from going this route, here are a few reasons why you may want to rethink that.

Man at laptop checking cell phone


1. They'll be less stressed

Stress can be a huge distraction for workers to contend with, and the more your employees feel they're falling behind on life's many tasks, the more anxious they're apt to be. By giving your staff some leeway to tend to personal matters at the office, you'll remove one layer of stress and help them better focus on the work they need to be doing for the bulk of the day.

2. They'll be more flexible with you

These days, close to half of full-time U.S. workers spend 50 hours or more on the job. It's no wonder, then, that so many professionals need to tap into the workday to deal with personal matters. But remember, if you want your workers to be flexible by staying late at the office as needed or logging on during weekends to deal with emergencies, then you need to be willing to grant that same leeway. And that means letting employees tend to personal tasks during the day without repercussions.

Keep in mind that certain items can only be dealt with during business hours. For example, scheduling doctor appointments can't be done in the evenings when offices are closed. The more understanding you are about the need to incorporate personal tasks into the workday, the less pushback you'll get when employees are asked to give up more of their limited free time for work purposes.

3. They'll be less likely to abuse sick days

The purpose of granting workers sick days is to give them ample time to recover from illnesses and avoid spreading germs in the office. But if you're not willing to look the other way when employees use work time for personal matters, then your staff members might get into the habit of calling out sick when their personal to-do lists start growing out of control. Rather than run that risk, you're better off allowing employees to spend a little time dealing with personal matters during the day, all the while keeping up with their regularly scheduled tasks.

It's one thing for workers to spend hours each day dealing with non-job-related matters. But if your employees do so within reason, there's no sense in giving them grief for it. If anything, making it clear that you condone a little personal time during the workday could be just the thing that keeps your employees happy and drives them to do the best job possible on a whole.

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