Why Do Workplace Slackers Exist?

Why do companies keep workers that are slackers?

Workplace slackers are nothing new. If you have been in the workplace for any length of time, you know the type of person that tries to do the least amount of work they possibly can. Although some people are just fundamentally lazy, there are also plenty of people in the working world that are not naturally the type of people that enjoy doing nothing except for when it comes to their job.

The problem with slackers in the workplace is they always tend to create more problems other than just trying to do the least amount of work. Deadwood at a company will bring down morale and ultimately result in people leaving that do get the job done. The people at a business that make it their mission to not work only cause issues.

The question most people ask when it comes to co-workers that do almost nothing is why do they exist? Why would a company tolerate an employee that does very little to contribute to its success? Moreover, what should you do if you work with someone that does not pull their weight in terms of getting the job done?

There is no shortage of working people that want to do the minimum or at least not work the maximum. 

With the recent pandemic leaving many businesses short-staffed, it should not come as a surprise they are often willing to take whoever they can hire. The problem with this is it likely is resulting in an increase in the type of person that doesn’t want to do much work. Competition for finding quality help makes it difficult to regularly find the best-qualified candidate that will perform well.

Although there are numerous slackers in the workplace, it is important to only be fair when it comes to defining what this type of person exactly is. The problem with a growing number of businesses today is they are constantly looking for increasing profits resulting in hiring fewer people and asking them to do more. For these workers, it would not be fair to describe them as lazy and trying to get away with doing less. They just want to be treated and compensated fairly.

Even though there often appears to be an abundance of slackers in the workplace, this isn’t necessarily the circumstance. People that are being taken advantage of in the workplace are many times grouped as the slacker and this is not accurate. People that try to do their fair share of work and are exploited are not truly slackers in the workplace.

Why do workplace slackers exist?

For the people in the working world that truly are deadwood, they can exist for several reasons all of which are generally poor excuses. The reason for this is that most freeloaders in the workplace have co-workers that are frequently picking up the slack for them while being compensated as much or less.

Slackers might feel their work has little meaning.

A lot of companies today are certainly disconnected from their everyday employee. This is particularly the case for large businesses that have shareholders. Although the focus of any business is always to make money, the importance of the people that make a company successful has been lost over time. The result of people not feeling valued or taking pride in their work is an increasing number of workplace slackers.

In addition to the low value of employees in the workplace by employers, there is no “T” in the work team any longer. The increasingly challenging corporate grind to get ahead in a career makes most people concentrate ultimately on themselves and not working together. Not all slackers are just plain lazy. Many of them are just self-absorbed.

Nepotism with workplace slackers can be common.

Nepotism in the working world is not going to disappear any time soon. The problem with an employee at a company that is a related slacker to an owner or manager is they will not get fired most of the time.

Family tends to take care of each other and this does not exclude the workplace. A relative that employs a person in their family will almost always let them get away with more in the workplace compared to the everyday employee. If there is a lazy person in the workplace related to someone that runs a business, don’t believe for a minute the boss doesn’t know about the problem. They likely do and just ignore the problem.

Favors both sexual and non-sexual can result in workplace slackers being tolerated. 

Although just about every business owner and Human Resource department will state they don’t approve of workplace relationships, it happens all the time. There are still plenty of people in the world sleeping their way to the top of an organization. A slacker employee that sleeps with the boss always gets preferential treatment even if the people involved will not admit to it.

There are so many secret relationships that occur in the workplace that allow the slackers to exist and they are not always sexual in nature. It is also possible for example that a slacker has a mutual friend with their boss or possibly they can provide a benefit to them outside of the workplace.

Blackmail does exist in the working world and slackers will use it to their advantage.

A workplace slacker that has dirt on a person in a leadership position will use it to their advantage. Maybe the slacker knows of something their boss did that was either unethical or illegal and this could get that person fired. Someone that wants to do the least amount at their job and that has useful blackmail information can get away with quite a lot.

Far too often people in the workplace will joke around about how a slacker might have sensitive confidential information about their boss and therefore they get to sit around and do nothing. The joking around might be quite true. The lazy employee might truly have information on the boss that allows them to get away with their lazy behavior.

Management doesn’t like ambition or competition for their own job. 

Leadership roles at most companies are filled by people that want to either remain where they are or continue to climb the corporate ladder. Employees that pose a threat to their job are not welcome. For this reason, slackers are many times tolerated by a manager for their own self-interest. They could really care less how it might affect other employees or an entire company. Put lazy people with no goal to advance in a position and they will not pose a threat to management.

If the work gets done, management does not care about the slacker.

Aside from things like blackmail and nepotism, the fundamental reason most slackers exist in the workplace is that people in leadership positions don’t care if the work gets done. Far too often this is the underlying reason lazy deadwood workers exist. They survive at the expense of their co-workers that get the work done.

Lazy people survive in the workplace at the expense of their co-workers.

With the disconnect at a growing number of companies valuing people, this explanation of business leaders ignoring slackers when the work gets done is probably the most toxic. The reason for this is it can bring down employee morale at a company and cause numerous larger issues in the long term.

What can you do if you have a co-worker that is a slacker?

Keep track of your own work and contributions.

Regularly what happens with a workplace slacker is they work on a team project and fail to pull their workload. When a workplace freeloader causes a team to fail it is important to have a record of your own contributions to show that you were not the cause of the problem.

Do not enable a slacker at work. 

It is one thing to cover for a co-worker on occasion. However, doing the job of a lazy co-worker on a regular basis only encourages them to continue with their behavior. The long-term problem with this is the person covering for the slacker employee will eventually grow tired and get angry. Understandably no one wants to be taken advantage of and this is exactly what a deadwood employee will do.

See if there is a larger issue with a co-worker that is not doing the job. 

It is never a good excuse but there could be a larger issue outside of the workplace that is hurting a slacker’s performance on the job. People have a life outside of work and things like kids, divorce, or money issues can all have an effect on someone.

An employee that is aggravated by a slacker employee should not have to work to resolve the issue but knowing what the problem is might at the least provide an explanation that could help the situation at least on a short-term basis.

Try to have a conversation instead of a heated confrontation.

The problem with most long-term slacker employees is someone likely already knows of the problem in management. There might be a reason they are not able to deal with the problem resulting in immediate termination. It could just be something like blackmail or a touchy potential legal problem. Getting confrontational with a slacker at work can backfire if the employer needs to protect themselves from the potential legal trouble with that lazy employee. The result is often the person confronting the workplace slacker getting into trouble themselves instead.

If for example, a slacker employee at a company has a good potential lawsuit for sexual harassment, the employer will make the freeloader happy as opposed to making their work record an issue.

Final Word

Deadwood in the workplace is not going to be eliminated anytime soon. There will always be things like nepotism, blackmail, and workplace favors that allow slackers to exist in the working world.

Even though many workplace experts argue there are ways to deal with slackers at work, the truth is their existence is likely one from a source that can’t be often corrected. This is failed leadership at a growing number of companies that allow lazy workplace behavior if the work gets done.

Management that is aware of workplace slackers and regularly chooses to ignore the problem when the work gets done and in the interest of their own is the ultimate problem. They see lazy employees with no ambition as not being a threat and they like it this way.

Sometimes workplace slackers can be dealt with. However, the truth with a widespread employee slacker problem at a place of business is the issues will not likely go away. Time and again management at most companies are already aware of the slacker problem and they choose to ignore it in their own self-interest. This shows the real problem is many times fundamentally failed leadership at most companies and not its workplace slackers.

The fact is with most workplace slackers the problem will not go away. A person that is tired of doing more and having to cover for a co-worker that is a true slacker, that person will likely need to find a new job with another employer. An employer with leadership that has not failed the people that work for them.

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