Seven Secret Tricks To Turn “SLUGGISH” Employees Into A Productive Workforce

“The problem with lethargy is that doing nothing validates the fear that nothing could be done.” — Bill Crawford

With all due respect to employers around the world, employees can’t perform like a workhorse running on Energizer batteries all the time.

I know productivity is the key word (or maybe it’s the only word) in almost all employees’ dictionaries. However, once in a while it’s ok for some of your team members to appear off the mark.

We all are humans and we all have our highs and lows, but that’s not what we’re going to talk about here. My center of attention in this article is some team members who are notorious for doing things not on time but after it.

Yes, you got it right, the lazy, sluggish, or lethargic employees who’re always struggling to keep up with other, more efficient employees.

Chances are you have already few names in your minds of some of your team members who seem to be dragging themselves to work most of the time.

As a responsible project manager, it’s your job to let such employees know that enough is enough and they must get their act together. That doesn’t mean that you should use stern words for them and embarrass them in front of other people.

“Want ultimate control over projects and teams from a single location? Switch to ProofHub NOW and get what you want!”

Doing this can backfire; some employees may resign, and there’s a risk of you being perceived as a school headmaster rather than a true professional.

Rather, you should find out why they are behaving in a certain way, and help them to be a better (and productive) version of themselves.

By helping them to cut down on sluggishness, you can play a leading role in making them count amongst the most productive, punctual, and efficient employees in your organization.

The key here is not to give up on your under-performers but inspire and motivate them to put all that lethargy in the trash bin.

Before we move on to discuss how to turn things around for unproductive employees, let us first understand how their laziness can put other employees at a disadvantage.


They Don’t Pull Their Weight At Work — The colleagues who never pull their weight can be, well, a nightmare! They always rely on their team members to cross the finishing line while contributing nothing (literally). They’re content with just coasting along.

Their Work Is Below-Par — How can you expect inefficient employees to deliver quality work? More often than not, they deliver erroneous work that scores low in terms of quality. This results in hampering organizational growth and may as well dent its reputation.

They Waste Time- Time is money but not for laggards at the workplace because they fail to understand its importance. They waste time in non-work related activities and avoid work rather than doing it.

They Indulge In Blaming Others For Their Incompetence — Placing blame for poor work performance on others is the first thing that inefficient, lazy workers do. They do not want to take the responsibility for their performance.

They Fuel Rumors In The Workplace — Nothing could be worse than having false rumors circulated in the workplace. Lazy workers tend to indulge in gossiping and spreading fake/unverified news that can create a lot of unrest or tension in the workplace.

They Distract Others — Unproductive employees cause distractions, which can have a ripple effect on others. Even a single distracted worker can easily impact all others around him. A rotten apple spoils the whole barrel!

We’ve read how sluggish employees can be a burden on any business, how they can create a negative environment in the workplace, and how they are a bad influence on everyone working around or with them.

So, what can you do to change things around? Well, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to manage these difficult employees.

Given below are some effective ways that can help you have a 100% productive and efficient team. Check them out.

1. Have A Private Chat With Your Workers


To begin with, you should have a private one-on-one chat with your lazy workers. Though you do not have to belittle them either individually or in front of the whole group, you have to remind them their current approach to work is not up to the expectations. Inform them about the date on which the meeting will take place.

Your main purpose should be to understand what makes them work below-par and procrastinate. There can be so many reasons for this — loss of interest in work, minimal growth opportunities, personal problems, health problems, etc. Knowing the root cause will help you deal with the matter objectively.

2. Make Sure You’ve Got All The Facts


You should not be guided by personal opinion about your sluggish employees; this will make it difficult for you to deal with them objectively. Take other employees’ opinions before you approach an employee. These opinions will either conflict or back up with your own.

Collect additional information from other sources so that you can know if there is another side to the story. The facts will tell you if the lackadaisical approach of the worker is entirely to be blamed or whether he/she needs training, communication lapse, behavior of colleagues or something else.

“Fed up of confusions and misunderstandings among team members regarding tasks assigned? Subscribe to ProofHub for more clarity.”

3. Set Clear And Achievable Goals


It’s likely that your lazy employee needs to be reminded of both work and organizational goals to be achieved. Be careful not to set unrealistic goals for them out of your frustration; this approach can further deflate their already waning inner drive.

The decision to assign them difficult tasks and projects when they are already unproductive can backfire. Start slow and give them easy, achievable tasks that they can complete on time. This will make them feel good and help to restore their lost confidence besides instilling positive thoughts in their minds.

4. Offer Additional Training


You have to be a manager who walks the talk. Only understanding and empathizing with their current situation, you should make the first move and offer them additional on-job training to show that you care about their personal and professional growth.

Additional training would help to repolish their current skillset and add new skills to their repertoire. By offering additional training, you validate your commitment to their development. This will make employees feel valued and motivate them to do well within the organization.

5. Create Consequences


Once you’ve set attainable goals for your lazy employees and provided them the required training, it’s time to clearly lay out some consequences in case they do not deliver. They should realize that they can’t walk away easily after every failure or poor performance.

Though creating consequences has negative reinforcement, it’s not bad to exercise some sort of control over lazy workers in the early stages. For example, employee demotion, temporary pay cuts, etc, could be some consequences.

6. Give Incentives


Your employees now know that they’d have to face some consequences if they fail to deliver the assigned work on time. This is enough to give them some sort of stress, which is good. Now you should also promise them incentives if they successfully complete the given work.

Incentives are a powerful motivator for employees to do well. When an employee knows that they’d get something in return for their work, they’re likely to put in more efforts to get rewarded. For example, you can consider giving away free movie tickets, lunch or dinner, or a cash reward as incentives to your employees.

7. Monitor Progress And Follow Up


This is a vital step. Setting goals and targets won’t be as useful unless you monitor the employee’s progress. You need to know if they’re treading the planned path and if they’re facing any difficulties in performing the work along the way.

Arrange to meet at set intervals where the employee can report on his or her progress, raise any concerns they might have, and get more help if it’s needed. Make sure the employee knows that this is all being done for their benefit and for the good of the company, and that success means a win-win for all concerned.


Consider yourself a fortunate manager if you do not have a single lazy worker in your team. However, not all managers are as lucky. Occasional lethargy can become a permanent weakness without your employees even knowing it.

Dealing with sluggish employees is not easy because they want to resist anything that makes them shrug it off.

However, implementing these tips will help you understand the root cause of their behavior and approach to work as well as formulate a strategy to help them get out of this rut sooner than later.

Seven Secret Tricks To Turn “SLUGGISH” Employees Into A Productive Workforce /p>