Team Management

Love wasting time in PowerPoint or spending hours on desk research?

Total reading time 02:57

Then believe us when we say, your employees are no different. 

Employees shouldn’t have to waste valuable time on tasks like PowerPoint, or doing market descriptions. Specialized, on-demand business support is available and as well as improving employees’ productivity, it might just make them happier, and more likely to stay – and not just by a small fraction, either.

A recent article from Harvard Business Review states that:

knowledge workers spend a great deal of their time – an average of 41% - on discretionary activities that offer little personal satisfaction and could be handled by others”.

Think about the total time you have spent in PowerPoint during your career, from school projects in elementary school to high stakes strategy presentations. It adds up, doesn’t it?

Now think about your team. How much time does each individual person spend on boring tasks during one week? That’s a whole lot of team hours that could be used more effectively and – perhaps more importantly – that’s a whole lot of hours when your employees are bored.

The cost of boredom

When employees get bored, they become disengaged, and when they become disengaged they become less productive or start looking for a new place to work. A disengaged team can get expensive very quickly.

More than 70% of high-retention-risk employees say they have to leave their organization to advance their careers.


The best brains, the ones you want to retain, are the ones who will begin to search first - they also have the most options.

Of course, not everything is as black and white as that – maybe you’re fine with your team outsourcing? Perhaps it’s their reticence, rather than your willingness that is the issue here.

So why is it that your team is clinging to these boring tasks? Actually, there are a number of possible reasons that people keep doing these time-sucking tasks.

1.      They might not know outsourcing is a possibility

Outsourcing on-demand at an individual level has historically been reserved for top tier management. Employees who have not worked at this level perhaps simply aren’t aware that it is a possibility.

2.      They do not have the authority to outsource

Depending on the structure of your organization, there may be a lengthy procurement process which has to be followed before even low cost activities can be authorized. If an employee doesn’t have the authority to outsource themselves, they’re not likely to request such a service unless they are expressly told they can do so. They may even worry that such a request would be perceived as them being lazy, or trying to hand off elements of their job.

3.      They think it is difficult

Some people might think it’s quicker to just do it themselves than it is to try and explain it to someone else. In reality, it’s simple. Send a request with 3-4 instruction lines, do something else, receive your finished project. 

4.      Finishing simple tasks creates a sense of achievement

This one is a little trickier to deal with. Small tasks show tangible results quickly and you feel good when you tick something off your to-do list, no matter the magnitude. Try reminding them that they can still get this feeling if they are responsible for making it happen. Not to mention how much better it feels to have been able to finish three other tasks in the time it would have taken to complete that one!

5.      They suffer in silence rather than complain

Some employees think routine tasks are part of the job, and many will want to prove they can do it all. Unfortunately, this is the quickest path to burn-out, particularly if they end up staying behind after hours to make sure they complete all their other tasks as well.

But retaining the best brains needn’t be the nightmare that many hiring managers think it is. 

“Employees who are 'engaged and thriving' are 59% less likely to look for a job with a different organization in the next 12 months.”

The message here is simple: don’t just allow, but actively encourage your employees to outsource cumbersome office tasks to no-more.

You hired them because they’re the best – so why not let them show you how good they can be?

Rune Holst Johansen
Published by Rune Holst Johansen

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