Photoxpress_1893511Cell Phone Usage

More than 90% of Americans now own a cell phone, according to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Mobile devices have revolutionized the way in which communicate, but they can also have a negative impact on worker productivity levels. In a survey conducted by Harris Poll on behalf of CareerBuilder, “cell phone/texting” was found to be the single greatest productivity killer in the workplace, with half of respondents pointing to it.

Snack/Smoke Breaks

Yep, snack and smoke breaks can also take a toll on worker productivity. Even if it’s just a short 5-minute breaks, they will quickly add up over the course of a typical workday. For instance, think about half a dozen workers taking a break every other hour. Over the course of an eight-hour day, that’s 120 minutes of lost productivity!


You might be surprised to see email on the list. After all, isn’t email a helpful tool that increases productivity? When used correctly, it can have a beneficial impact on worker productivity, but the problem is that far too many workers check their email accounts numerous times throughout the day. A report published by the McKinsey Global Institute found that the average Internet user spends 13 hours each week checking his or her email.

Social Media

It should come as little-to-no surprise that social media is on our list of the top 5 productivity killers in the workplace. Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., these sites can take a toll on a worker’s ability to produce work. In fact, a recent study conducted by the Global Web Index found the average Internet user now spends 1.72 hours on social media each day! Granted, this includes both work and leisure time, but the fact remains that social media is huge time-killer and ultimately a distraction.


Last but not least is gossip. When workers spend their time talking amongst themselves about stuff that doesn’t involve work, it naturally cuts into their productivity. The same CareerBuilder poll cited above found gossip to be the second leading cause of the lost productivity in the workplace, attesting to its impact.