While it is easy to identify employees who are doing an exceptional job and those who are doing poorly, it is much harder to identify those who are in the middle, or “coasting” – those employees who are doing just enough to complete their tasks.  In a recent survey, nearly a third of employees admitted that they were merely “coasting” at work. This kind of performance can reduce productivity and can even negatively affect fellow employees’ performance and attitudes. Why should they excel at their job if contributing minimal time and energy is acceptable?

What are some common signs of a “coasting” employee? They often have very little interaction with fellow employees, avoid participating in meetings or group discussions, have a negative attitude, come across as bored, and seem unaffected by goals or incentives. What can managers and business owners do to address “coasting” employees?

Have Clear Job Descriptions

First of all, to identify an employee who is not meeting standards, it is imperative to provide clear, accurate job descriptions that include specific performance expectations. With the job plainly defined and expectations clearly outlined, employees will know exactly what is expected of them. This will help management easily identify those who are not meeting the expected standards.

Schedule Regular Performance Reviews

Regular employee reviews are an excellent way to ensure that their performance is meeting standards. Be sure to get input from a few trusted, fellow employees. Poor performance can be hard to identify since many employees hide it well from management, but fellow employees will be able to give you honest feedback regarding how an employee acts when those in charge are not around.

Identify the Underlying Cause

There is often an underlying reason why a “coasting” employee is performing the way they are. This is where regular performance reviews come into play. Talk with the employee and ask if they have any concerns. Both personal and work-related issues can significantly impact an employee’s job performance.

With new employees, sometimes the issue may be that they are not well-suited to their position or are not confident in a specific task or on a particular piece of equipment. Try to work with the employee to see if additional training will improve their confidence and overall job performance.

With a longer-term employee who has no history of low performance, there may be other factors. If the employee has been in the same position for an extended period of time, they may have become bored or lost motivation. Assembly-line work or repetitive positions suffer the most from this. Ask the employee if they would like additional training to move on to a different role or position. Be sure employees are challenged and receive new incentives or goals regularly to avoid the monotony. Re-training on a specific job or piece of equipment may also be necessary.

Other times, personal issues may be affecting performance or “coasting.” Health issues can be a significant contributing factor to decreased productivity. They may not be able to keep up with the physical demands of the job. Perhaps a position change or workplace adjustment could address this issue.

Review Internal Business Practices

The responsibility for employees “coasting” may fall on your business practices. Take an honest look at your business practices and policies to ensure they are challenging your employees yet are realistic at the same time. Do you properly recognize or reward positive job performance well enough? Recognizing individual and team goals or achievements ensure that employees feel valued and appreciated for their work. They will be more likely to continue performing well or be incentivized to work harder.

Sometimes, “coasting” employees and poor performance quality lies on management’s shoulders. Is your management properly encouraging employees and departments to put in extra effort? Employees follow the example set up by their management – if they see a manager doing merely enough to “get the job done,” they will mimic that pattern.

Use a Time Tracking Tool

Ensuring employees account for their time is vital to avoid “coasting” employees. There are many affordable time tracking tools available for business of all sizes and fields. Most time tracking solutions provide the ability to break down time spent on a specific job – this will be hugely beneficial to see where an employee may be taking some extra time to complete projects or their daily workload.

When it comes to dealing with employees that aren’t entirely putting forth their best effort, it is best to take action right away. Not only does a coasting employee impact you financially, but can stall the growth of your business.