Are Your Employees Coasting at Work?

coasting employee

Whilst most employers will be well versed in dealing with under-performing staff, the situation can be trickier when faced with those who appear to be coasting at work.

Given the increasing demands placed on business owners it can be easy to overlook staff who are doing just enough to get by, however failing to recognise and address this can come at a significant cost to a business.

Why coasting employees are costly

The issue with coasting is that it can be incredibly contagious and spread quickly throughout an organisation. After all, if one employee sees another getting away with providing the minimum amount of effort, they will be more inclined to do the same.

If allowed to continue unchallenged, coasting can develop from a simple drop in standards to a lack of innovation and original thought.

There is also the danger that employees who are coasting may leave after a short period of time because they feel bored, disengaged and unmotivated during the working day; leading to a loss of talent and additional recruitment costs that could be otherwise avoided.

How to spot staff who are coasting

The main challenge for employers is spotting staff who are coasting at work, as although there are mechanisms set up to identify those who are under or overachieving, there is little in relation to those who fall somewhere in between.

Instead, key indicators can include lateness, poor interaction with colleagues and failure to engage in team discussions or business initiatives. It is therefore important that employers pay close attention to their staff and are on the look-out for these tell-tale signs.

Employers are encouraged to act in a tactful manner when faced with someone who appears to be coasting at work in order to encourage the employee to improve their performance.

Addressing coasting employees

It may be that an underlying issue is causing them to coast along and managers should hold an open and informal discussion with individuals to understand this. Following this conversation, employers should look to alleviate any issues, which may be easier if they are work related.

It may be that a lack of motivation encourages employees to provide the minimum effort at work. Employers should look to address this by finding ways to engage with employees more effectively.

Staff are generally more motivated when they feel appreciated and employers should recognise and reward employees who perform at a high level.

Staff may also lack motivation if they feel they have hit something of a glass ceiling with their career and employers may offer additional training or work responsibilities to encourage staff development and career progression.

Overcoming the causes of coasting

Employees may also feel tired or worn out with work, which is why they could be struggling to provide that extra effort. In these situations, it will be worth reviewing the use of their annual leave entitlement to ensure they are getting sufficient rest throughout the year.

Whilst staff are generally free to use their holiday entitlement however they like, employers should be encouraging individuals to take regular breaks throughout the year in the hope that they return to work refreshed and ready to perform at their best.

If something in the employee’s personal life is causing them to coast at work, then employers can still act to alleviate the situation.

Providing access to a mental health first aider or an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can give support to those who may be dealing with a number of personal issues.

Alternatively, allowing individuals a period of compassionate leave away from work to attend to personal matters may be appropriate under the circumstances.

Ensuring people have the required skills

As well as focusing on the individual employee, employers are advised to review how effective managers are in maximising productivity and encouraging extra effort from their teams.

It is important that managers have the soft skills to recognise when individuals are coasting and how to respond to get the most out of their staff. This can prove problematic for those recently promoted to a managerial position and appropriate training may be beneficial in these circumstances.

Regular performance reviews will also be important as this is where managers and employees tend to agree on a set of work related goals to achieve. Rather than treating this as a box ticking exercise, managers should be setting targets that encourage staff to push themselves and give extra effort at work.

Ultimately, whilst many employers may see coasting as something of a non-issue it can have a significant impact on a company’s productivity and profitability.

There is little surprise that some of the biggest and most successful organisations rate highly when it comes to employee engagement and company culture. Therefore, to truly maximise the potential of their workforce, employers are advised to come up with a suitable way of monitoring and discouraging coasting in their business.

About the author

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Peter Done, Managing Director of Peninsula Business Services – the UK’s leading specialist Employment Law, HR and Health & Safety service. Peter has written a series of employment guides for ByteStart, which include;

More from ByteStart

ByteStart is packed with help and tips on all aspects of managing people. Check out some of our most popular guides;

Employing staff

Employment Law

Motivating your team


Bytestart Limited

Comments are closed.