Credit: MrTime2give/Flickr

Managers really don't trust their employees

No, your workers aren't wasting hours on Facebook - at least that's what they say.

by Rebecca Smith
Last Updated: 26 May 2016

A recent European court ruling caused all sorts of consternation when a judge said employers could read workers’ private messages sent via online chat and webmail accounts during working hours. But it seems many employees needn’t be worried, since they’re on their best behaviour in the office. Or so so they say.

A survey of 1,000 employees working in ‘a typical office environment’, from productivity firm Nitro, found that not only do managers consistently underestimate employees’ productivity levels, but also assume they spend more time mucking around on social media than they really do. Hang your heads in shame, mistrustful managers.

It was the same story when it came to personal admin. Over half of workers claimed they wouldn’t spend more than 15 minutes catching up on it while in the office, while 46% of managers predicted personal admin took between 15-30 minutes of an average employee’s day. While 75% of managers estimated that phone checking happens at least once an hour among distracted workers, according to employees themselves, half of them only check it once every few hours.

Of course, the obvious question is just how honest everyone was in this study of their productivity. You wouldn’t think the majority of UK workers would be happy to disclose quite how much time they’re wasting on Facebook or playing Candy Crush when they’re meant to be responding to very important emails.

Even so, there’s quite a discrepancy between what managers think their staff are up to and the reality. In fact, it might be a bit concerning for employees themselves to hear just how unproductive managers think they are.

Of course, the behaviour of workers will likely vary depending on the type of employment they’re involved in and the culture of the company. It’d be near unheard of for someone working in media to go hours without checking their phone, but you’d soon get on your manager’s nerve if you were glued to one while manning a till at a supermarket.

Nonetheless, the disconnect here suggests managers might need to pay more attention to just how productive employees are. Either that, or they're very perceptive and know exactly what their workers are up to. In which case employees might need to get a bit smarter with their time-wasting. 

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