Have you watched the first season of the Netflix original show, A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the beloved children’s books by Lemony Snicket? If not, you should…with or without kids! The series follows the Baudelaire kids, Violet, Klaus and Sunny and the disastrous events that ensue after their parents perish in a mysterious fire. Once the orphans are sent to live with Count Olaf, a despicable guardian only after the children’s’ money, the shenanigans begin and the dark comedy comes to life.
Like the Baudelaire kids, employees can often experience a series of “unfortunate events” if they waste time at work. In the first book of the Lemony Snicket series, The Bad Beginning, the siblings become orphans and begin living with Count Olaf – who strikes Klaus across the face, puts Sunny in a bird cage, and tries to marry Violet.
Employees can experience a “bad beginning” to their day by wasting time right from the get-go; e.g. multiple conversations while getting morning coffee, checking personal emails, and browsing the internet – the biggest time waster according to 26% of respondents in the 2014 Wasting Time at Work Survey by salary.com.
In the second book of the Unfortunate series, The Reptile Room, the orphans escape the clutches of Count Olaf and go to live with Dr. Montgomery Montgomery or Uncle Monty, a herpetologist. It should come as no surprise that Olaf reappears in disguise as Stephano, Dr. Montgomery’s new assistant. Olaf’s disguise doesn’t fool anyone, but Stephano manages to kill Uncle Monty with a fake snake bite and the Baudelaire kids are once again orphans.
While there aren’t usually reptiles at the average office, there are coworkers who can “kill” your time management. In the salary.com survey, 24% of respondents said having too many meetings/conference calls and dealing with annoying coworkers both tied for second place time-wasters.
The third book by Lemony Snicket is titled, The Wide Window. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are sent to live with Aunt Josephine, a fearful woman obsessed with grammar. She lived on a cliff on Lake Lachrymose, a lake filled with deadly leeches. Olaf makes another appearance, this time as Captain Sham. After some smooth talking, Olaf as Captain Sham gains custody of the Baudelaire’s again before pushing Aunt Josephine into the lake of leeches.
Similar to the reptiles, there probably aren’t any leeches at work. But, boredom can certainly “suck the life” from employees. The 2014 Wasting Time at Work Survey reported that 20% of people waste time at work because they are bored and aren’t interested enough in their jobs to pay full attention.
In the last book of season one, The Miserable Mill, the orphans find themselves at the Lucky Smalls Lumbermill under the care of Sir, the mill owner. When Klaus breaks his glasses, he goes to Dr. Orwell, the optometrist located in the mysterious eye-shaped building. While there, Klaus is hypnotized by Dr. Orwell and her assistant, no other than…you guessed it, Count Olaf disguised as Shirley, the doctor’s receptionist. Olaf as Shirley tries to gain custody of the Baudelaire kids yet again by hypnotizing Klaus into causing accidents at the mill. After Dr. Orwell’s timely death in the mill and Shirley’s escape, the kids are orphans…again!
It turns out, 89% of the 2014 survey respondents report being “hypnotized” at work. In other words, 31% waste roughly 30 minutes/day, another 31% waste 1 hour, 16% waste 2 hours, 6% waste 3 hours, 2% waste 4 hours, and the last 2% waste 5 or more hours. Yikes! (The percentages add up to only 88%; I assume the numbers were rounded to the closest whole number in the survey.)
As for the Baudelaire siblings, we’ll have to wait to until season two, which will pick up with the fourth book, The Austere Academy, to find out what other unfortunate events come their way. As for the employees who waste time at work, there are actions that can be taken to minimize the unproductive behavior. A few extreme solutions are to monitor the internet by tracking employees’ content use, block social media websites, and terminate employees due to email misuse. These solutions are certainly effective, but you run the risk of alienating current employees and scaring off potential employees. According to themuse.com, 55% of employees would consider quitting their jobs if Facebook was banned. OpenDNS reports that Facebook is the number one most blocked website at work.
There are other less dramatic solutions to reforming time-wasting employees. One is to create a social media policy – a quick Google search will bring up a number of websites that describe how to put together easy-to-follow guidelines. Another is education – employees may be unaware of the ramifications of their time-wasting behaviors on company productivity. Have an all employee meeting and explain it to them. For new employees, heading off time-wasting behavior starts with the hiring process. Hiring the right people – employees who fit the company culture – then setting and clearly communicating expectations will create an environment that keeps employees busy. Don’t forget to include employee appreciation measures in your plan. Employees who feel appreciated work harder.
We want to hear from you – what’s your biggest time waster at work, how have you curbed time-wasting behavior at the office? Leave a comment! Have your watched A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix? Isn’t Count Olaf the best villain?