countrygirl 83 Posts
Every Wednesday and Thursday mornings, I can't get my employees away from the "water cooler" and stop talking about American Idol. I'm wondering...what do other supervisors think I should do? I don't want to be the big bad boss and ruin the fun, but I also don't want it to get out of hand. Help!
Well I think it depends on the amount of time that is being wasted. If its 5 mins of chat that relaxes everyone and when done they return to work and are productive and everything is fine, sometimes it doesn't hurt to let that go. However, if it's eating up about 15 or more mins every morning then action is required. How I would handle it is the first Wednesday and Thursday I would wait about 5 minutes and go to the cooler for a drink and stand there and take my time drinking it to see what they do. The next Wednesday I would do the same however I would ask one of heavier gabbers to get a report for me or to show me a number or something along that line. Then do the same thing on Thursday with the next biggest gabber. Unless they are really not with it they should be getting the hint by now. But if they are still there the following week its time to say something. I would make it light the first time something like "Ok gals it sounds like it was fun but we need to get back to work" After that a more direct approach is needed. I would call them into your office one at at time and point out how much time they are wasting and that it needs to be stopped.
Caution: Make sure there are no other "Chat Sessions" going on around the workplace that aren't being dealt with or you'll get an argument about how so and is doing it and noone is saying anything to them.
American Idol for some people is like the Super Bowl or the NCAA tournament...you know it's going to be a topic of conversation and a bit distracting. I would let short coversations go, but if it's starting to eat away at productivity, it should be addressed.
I think what this thread of discussion shows is that if "there's a will" to waste time at work, "there's a way" to do it. I'm not saying employees shouldn't be allowed to chat about television reality shows or that visiting an online site about a TV show and adding to a blog for a few minutes is a problem. Just like an employee who logs on to Amazon.com for a few minutes to buy a CD, or checks their personal e-mail accounts, or watches a funny YouTube video a co-worker told them about isn't a big deal if it only takes a few minutes. I think it's all less about how, specifically, these people are wasting their time (so long as they're not doing something that could be deemed offensive by co-workers) and it's more about deciding how much time-wasting is permissible before it becomes a big drain on productivity.
Companies should have policies on computer use thjat explain how there should be no expectation of privacy and that the company has the right to monitor use etc. The policy should be distributed and employees should acknowledge the policy in writing. If you think someone is going overboard in how much time they spend conducting non-work related tasks onlline--chat rooms, blogs, personal e-mail, whatever--then they should be dealt with, and if necessary, disciplined appropriately. We all just need to decide what we consider to be "overboard."
I just saw a survey by Spherion that said American Idol is the most talked about program at work and that 37% of respondents said it was their favorite show. Here is the link to the survey
Maybe if we all just make sure that Sanjaya is voted off people won't have as much to talk about!