How to Handle a Lazy Co-Worker

Ask Savvy: My Lazy Co-Worker Is Affecting My Morale


Dear Savvy,

I don't know where else to turn for some advice regarding a certain co-worker. Our company has been expanding and growing very quickly with a lot of success so I have been moved around to different job titles a couple times. Now that our company is all settled down (for the most part) I just can't help but notice that one employee is not doing any work. We both have the same job titles, but she does one thing which takes about 2 hours at the most and the rest of the time she is browsing the internet or doing her own personal errands. This is not just a guess either, I know for a fact because she would AIM me that she is bored and tell me all her personal stuff. She strolls in at 11 am and leaves around 4pm which I would never had cared about, but it bothers me now because our department is soooo busy and she is sooo NOT busy.

My manager and other co-workers have noticed and we have all brushed this off by joking about it. It has always been a burning thought in the back of my head whenever I'm rushing to get things done at work and come in for OVER TIME about why wouldn't anyone say anything about this? Today my manager IM'd me joking about how she doesn't do much around here and that she would probably leave early AGAIN — I just can't stand it anymore! How can I bring this issue up seriously to my boss that this is bothering me? Or should I even bring it up in the first place? It is affecting my morale for working hard if I know there are other employees getting paid more than me for doing a lot less AND my managers (including all the employees) are aware of it.

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A: Your story brings back memories of a past co-worker, and I grit my teeth just thinking about her! It's easy for other people that don't share a job title to suggest that you just ignore her behavior and laugh it off, but it's a much more personal issue for you and it makes sense that you're so fired up. And of course you're losing respect for your managers for accepting her behavior — what would they do if the whole department slacked off like that?

It's obvious that you're an all-star employee and an asset to the company, so why not ask your managers if some of your responsibilities could be passed on to the slacker who shares your job title? Since she was hired for the same position she should be capable of performing the same tasks. Make a detailed list of your duties and choose a few that could be passed on to your co-worker, and set up a meeting with your managers to discuss.

When you meet with your managers, mention that you're feeling slightly overwhelmed and feel like you could do a better job if you weren't spread so thinly. Your comprehensive list will show them exactly how you've been helping the company. Then, tell your managers that you'll help your co-worker adapt to her new duties. Voila — suddenly you can add that you've trained other employees to your resume! Also, instead of complaining to your bosses in a negative way, you're proactively helping them find a solution.

I seriously doubt that your managers would shun your suggestion of passing on some responsibilities to your co-worker, and they may even consider reorganizing the job duties of other employees in your department. If everyone is killing themselves to get things finished everyday, then everyone would be happier if they had a little bit less on their plates. And in the rare chance they don't think your suggestion is a good one, you've put yourself in the perfect position to discuss compensation.

Keep in mind that just because your bosses let her get away with murder, it doesn't mean they're not recognizing your hard work. Good luck and keep me posted!

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