These 5 Hidden Things Ruin Our Workdays

4 min. read

These may be driving your people away right now, but you'll never know unless you ask

Here at Amazing Workplace, we get to see and study some of the things that make a workplace really great. We obsess over what makes employees happy, and we help workplaces do more of that.

Along the way, we also see the things that make work... not so good. Let's pull back the curtain on 5 of these.

1. Productivity-Destroying Meetings

U.S. office workers spend on average almost 12 hours a week in meetings, with some employees looking at 30 hours of meetings scheduled each week. About 67% of workers say meetings are distracting them from doing their actual jobs.

Meetings are fine when they are productive and purposeful, but it's leaders' and managers' jobs to ensure that it's time well-spent. Employees do not like going to meetings when they are not needed. It makes them feel like their productivity is being hijacked. When this becomes routine in their work week, it builds resentful feelings that can ultimately lead to turnover.

Don't let meetings spread like weeds in your happy workplace garden. From top leadership to small teams, organizers should make sure that the meeting is necessary to get something done, and that all invitees are actually needed there. Otherwise, they should cancel or modify the schedule or attendee list.

2. Managing Time over Productivity

Managers have long used different methods to track exactly how employees are using their time during the workday. In recent years many have turned to tracking software to constantly monitor employee's use of time. While many managers may feel it is useful, employees frequently resent tracking software because it makes them feel controlled, micro-managed, and distrusted. Even many technology managers who run the software feel uncomfortable with it.

Work is about getting things done, not about time on the clock. Instead of fretting over time spent working, set clear objectives for what people need to get done and then support them and keep them accountable. The amount of time employees spend to hit their production goals makes no difference. When it looks like employees can do more in a given time, their leader or manager can increase the production goals.

3. Hyper-Complex Processes

There's a lot of great software and amazing new management systems that can supercharge our organizations. But these tools can quietly morph into productivity-killing swamps of complexity and time wasting. Boston Consulting Group once studied this issue and found that in the first 15 years of the 21st Century, "the amount of procedures, vertical layers, interface structures, coordination bodies, and decision approvals needed… increased by anywhere from 50 percent to 350 percent.”

These bloated and broken processes are not only hurting productivity—they are driving workers away. One survey found that 86% of workers cited bad processes as a significant driver in wanting to leave their jobs.

Leaders should be very watchful of processes creeping toward complexity. Regular employee surveys can often reveal when this is happening, but team leaders can also help by bringing it up in regular check-ins. Employees will vent their frustrations if processes are slowing their work.

4. Work Cliques

A "clique" a small group of people who spend their time together and do not welcome other people into that group. When they form at work, they block the formation of healthy connections between employees and teams. Belonging and connection at work is strongly tied to happiness. But when cliques are allowed to develop, many or most employees will be left out of the social loop. They'll feel isolated and unhappy.

Organizations can fight work cliques by taking a few simple and consistent steps: set aside regular social time and activities for teams and larger groups, ensure that activities organized through work are open to all, and publicly encourage and honor employees' passions and pursuits.

5. Fake Listening

Organizations are increasingly reaching out for feedback through employee surveys or other feedback tools. We're a company that champions using surveys to improve and maintain employee happiness, so we think that's great! But we do hear often about employees that get surveyed and never see acknowledgements or action in response. Asking for feedback and ignoring it is worse than not asking for feedback at all. It can actually damage employee happiness, engagement, and retention.

Amazing Workplace built a survey platform for the whole process, driving the organization forward through acknowledgement, improvement planning, and action in response to each survey. If you'd like to learn more about it, or exchange happy workplace stories, start here or email us at