What are the worst productivity killers

The biggest productivity killers for your employees: inside

A company is only as good as its employees - and they are often exposed to high levels of stress. However, many of them are unnecessary productivity killers.

Researchers refer to the ideal state of productive work as “flow”: This state is described as an exhilarating feeling of complete immersion and complete absorption in an activity that runs as if by itself. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to achieve this in the corporate workplace. External influences disturb concentration, take up valuable time and ensure that working with maximum efficiency often seems unimaginable.

Companies and employees alike suffer from these productivity killers. In this article you will find out how employees can keep their productivity high and where the dangers lurk.

Create smooth HR processes throughout the company and thus promote the productivity of your employees. Find out more here.

Productivity killer 1: multitasking

The Digital Work Report of the US company Wrike, a study on the causes of lack of productivity, lists “multitasking” as one of the biggest productivity killers. Everyone knows the situation where new tasks seem to pile up every second, which should best be done immediately. Hardly any employee is devoted to just one project today. Jumping from one construction site to the next within minutes has already become the norm for many people. You get the feeling that you have everything under control because you take care of everything at the same time.

But the opposite is the case. The human brain is not made to cope with different cognitively challenging processes at the same time, rather it just changes rapidly back and forth. On average, it takes 23 minutes to get back to the original task.

While ironing and talking on the phone may work, working on complex corporate projects at the same time will always be productive. Even studies prove that.

The solution

Organize and prioritize your tasks, mentally, handwritten or in an app. As soon as projects are no longer buzzing around in your head and are collected in a to-do list, concentration usually returns quickly.

Productivity killer 2: Too many emails

Many employees no longer remember the day when their inbox still held under 1,000 unread e-mails. The daily flood of emails is one of the greatest productivity killers ever. Over the years, intentionally or unintentionally, you end up in countless mailing lists, private e-mails get mixed up with professional, urgent matters get lost in irrelevant press releases. An overflowing mailbox is like a cluttered desk: it causes constant unrest. In addition, the feeling of an information deficit increases with every unread email.

The solution

Consciously allow yourself time to look after your mailbox. That means reading, sorting and, above all, deleting your e-mails. It's also a good idea to set up folders for different issues or priority levels right from the start. In this way you keep the mass of unread emails permanently under control and always know exactly what can and cannot wait. Mark messages from important senders in color - this is also how you can overview or prioritize projects.

Productivity killer 3: colleagues

While you can get to grips with multitasking and the flood of e-mails yourself, productivity killers lurk in the office and are difficult to circumvent: your colleagues. Whether under- or overburdened, in a bad mood or even incompetent: There are countless reasons why colleagues can tear you out of your concentration. Sometimes someone needs help, sometimes someone wants to talk about the weekend. Others come to get information that they would find themselves if there were an intranet or a central HR platform.

Of course, a good relationship with office colleagues is essential for the working atmosphere, but only as long as it is not at the expense of daily tasks. Because then there is stress, excessive demands and, in the end, dissatisfaction with your own lack of productivity.

The solution

Communicate clearly when you are approachable and when you are not. Put on your headphones or change your online status to busy - no one will blame you. On the contrary: one or the other colleague is grateful for such clear signals. Because nobody likes to chat with tense or mentally absent colleagues.

Efficient processes, higher productivity

HR makes a decisive contribution to employee productivity. Because when personnel processes are uncomplicated for everyone, your employees have more time for their actual work. Personio supports you!

Productivity killer 4: Inefficient meetings

If you sit in a meeting, you work. So it seems. However, the opposite is often the case. Meetings are one of the worst time wasters because they are often unstructured. The main problems are that there is no agenda, that no one wants to take responsibility for the end result, that meetings are not moderated, and too many participants are invited.

Many employees book meetings as a welcome break from everyday work to switch off their heads. The more participants, the more freedom a meeting offers for daydreamers. In addition, as the number of participants increases, it tends to become impossible to reach agreement.

The solution

Prepare an agenda with clear goals or a list of desired results in advance, keep the group small, appoint a responsible moderator and limit the discussion time.

Productivity Killer 5: Social Media

Everyone knows the situation: Just briefly looked at the clock and suddenly wasted 20 minutes on Facebook. Many companies allow their employees access to social networks as a gesture of goodwill, because a ban on certain websites and internet services would be legally permissible. There is always the risk that small idle phases in everyday work will result in an escape into the social media universe instead of devoting oneself to uncomfortable tasks. Waiting for a mail? You can pass this time on WhatsApp. It goes without saying that productivity suffers massively as a result.

Of course, Facebook & Co can also help to network colleagues with each other or to use your own network to solve problems. The statistics speak a different language, however: According to a study by the Pew Research Center, 34% use social media at work to take a mental break, while only 10 to 15% use it to complete work-related tasks.

The solution

Self-discipline. And the airplane mode. Set a specific time for use. There are companies that prohibit Facebook or smartphones in meetings or in principle. Sounds tough, but it ultimately benefits productivity.


At first glance, productivity killers seem to be a company's problem. However, lack of concentration, postponed tasks and wasted time soon lead to dissatisfaction among employees, and in the long term even to the so-called “boreout”. It is therefore in the interest of the employee to discipline himself and to create conditions in which productive and fulfilling work is possible.