Correcting Bad Work Habits

Pharmacy TimesApril 2016 Respiratory Health
Volume 82
Issue 4

A few common bad habits can keep employees from reaching their full potential.

A few common bad habits can keep employees from reaching their full potential. Some employees begin their careers with 1 or more of these habits or perhaps develop them as they become comfortable in their workspaces. Yes, that’s you, reader! And you, the manager! Have these habits crept into your daily routine? Are work conditions complicating these problems? If so, the following tips can help you self-correct now.

Many employees experience the HALT constellation: hungry, angry, lonely, tired.1 Individuals experiencing HALT are easy to identify: they tend to be miserable, snappish, and easy to anger. The Table3,5 lists some interventions that can correct these problems.

  • Hunger can be distracting and can lead to poor performance, low blood sugar, and overeating when food becomes available.2
  • Angry workers often alienate coworkers and patients, and leave lasting negative impressions.
  • It may seem strange that employees could be lonely in the workplace, but it is a common problem. Some employees have difficulty connecting with their coworkers or have unmet expectations of camaraderie or friendship from coworkers.
  • Tiredness (or exhaustion) plagues the American workplace. The National Sleep Foundation’s Sleep in America poll reports 20% of employees sleep fewer than 6 hours every night.3 This can result in fatigue, a depressed immune response, and errors in the workplace.4

2. Tardiness

If you are frequently late, review your morning routine from the time you wake until you arrive at work. Write down everything you do and estimate (honestly) how long each step takes. Identify the rate-limiting steps (eg, do you pull wrinkled clothing from the dryer or have to compete for access to the shower?). Next, assess whether you can shift tasks. Setting up the coffee pot, packing lunches, and picking out clothing the night before can shave valuable minutes from your schedule. Finally, monitor your morning routine until you get it right and be aware of the propensity to backslide.6

Employee tardiness annoys employers, erodes teams, and reflects poorly on employees.7 Employers need to be clear about their punctuality expectations and enforce them consistently.8

3. Failure to Delegate

Many employees, especially those with heavy responsibilities, fail to deliver assignments on time. Ask yourself whether you can delegate some of your work to your coworkers (or subordinates, if you occupy a supervisory role). Sharing the workload benefits the overall workplace in multiple ways: it engages coworkers in projects and ensures workflow in your absence.

4. Failure to Participate

If you suffer from shyness or nervousness, and your work reputation is suffering as a result, consider joining Toastmasters International ( or taking an improvisation class.

5. Talking too Much

Watch for red flags that you may be this employee: do coworkers avoid the break room when you are there? Do they send e-mails rather than interact with you in person? Consider focusing on what people need to know, sending brief e-mails (using bullet points, if possible), and ending conversations early when it is obvious that coworkers have stopped paying attention.

Ms. Wick is a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy.


  • Taylor P. Emotional intelligence at work: how to apply your EI with colleagues, clients and suppliers. Summit website. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • Tribole E. Skipping meals can have negative consequences. Human Kinetics website. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Seven or more hours of sleep per night: a health necessity for adults. Published June 1, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • Prather AA, Janicki-Deverts D, Hall MH, Cohen S. Behaviorally assessed sleep and susceptibility to the common cold. Sleep. 2015;38(9):1353-1359.
  • Howard K. Warm fuzzies in the pharmacy: the importance of being liked. Drug Topics website. Published December 4, 2014. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • Olsztynski J. Unfashionably late: people who are chronically late may be fashionable, but not very businesslike. National Driller website. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • Casey M. The 7 habits of difficult employees and how to deal with them. NZ Business website. Accessed December 11, 2015.
  • Morley T. How to deal with an employee who is habitually late. Franchising World website. Published October 20, 2015. Accessed December 11, 2015.

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