What is the cost of Behavioural Waste? How much can you afford?

What has been ignored - Behavioural WasteBehavioural waste – what is it?

Have you ever wondered why no one makes decisions, there are too many meetings, some people never seem to be available and always busy, and projects always take longer? Could it be true in your business or with your clients and suppliers?

Surveys suggest your business could easily be losing half the time available through behavioural waste. Although you may not think it or believe it, you do have a choice. So how much behavioural waste do you choose to handle?


Behavioural waste is

All forms of behaviour that divert energy, talent and resources away from the personal or organisational purpose.

One of the problems in larger organisations is where people are over-whelmed with long ‘to do’ lists. The problem only starts there, as when you merge them all together separating out each project, it becomes abundantly clear that priorities assigned by people are different, so projects will take longer. And then tomorrow it all changes as the next top priority pops up from more fire-fighting operations in a different department. And so it will continue until the next meeting…

Here are a few more examples of behavioural waste:

  • Unnecessary meetings occur through habit
  • Underperformance not challenged
  • People say things like – ‘it’s not my fault’ or ‘we didn’t know that’
  • Disengaged people: people give up, go through the motions
  • Conflicts not addressed
  • Businesses fail to adapt to change
  • Rigid and habitual processes and systems become dated
  • Poor leadership
  • Cynical attitudes
  • Over-controlling behaviours – maybe bullying

Any behavioural waste means your business is underperforming and if you deal with it now, not only will you improve the business but it will be a better and happier place to work. People will be engaged and looking to improve and be more effective and efficient in what they are doing.

Current thought leaders like Dan Pink will agree

…this internal drive as the result of three factors: autonomy, mastery and purpose. People want control of their own destiny. They want to be challenged and find fulfillment in getting better at something. And they want to feel they are making a difference.”

Do you know how much behavioural waste you have in your company? Can you calculate it?

Consider that a recent survey in the IT industry suggested that in a 7 hour day only 3.1 hours were productive – that is 55% of the working day being unproductive. Global surveys are carried out regularly and report that about 80% of the workforce is disengaged, and these will add to the unproductive state in your business.

You can easily calculate a rough cost of the waste in your company by taking a look at the IT example above. We’re not talking about a return to the days of an old style of time and motion study here where you’re timed every time you leave your desk!  One of the most productive areas you’ll see in some organisations is where people congregate informally and communicate effectively – the coffee machine – but it could also encourage unproductive behaviour too. Again it’s down to your people and the level of engagement or disengagement.

So what would it look like if you improved your business by an hour a day per person? In the IT example that would be an increase of 30% in base line productivity – that could be managing 30% more clients, finishing projects much faster and still there’s room for more improvement. And it’s a fact that people enjoy being valued, engaged and productive – the day goes faster when the job and environment  is a pleasurable experience.


For more on the cost of behavioural waste to your organisation click here

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