Why are lazy employees rewarded and hardworking ones not?

  1. They are smarter than you.

If the lazy person does not cheat, or cut corners and works faster than you and the quality of the work is the same, then you should not be rewarded for working hard aka working longer hours and appearing busy.

If Lazy Employee does 10 units of production within one working day and hard worker stays after work to do 12, in pure units of production the harder worker wins.

However, if the lazy worker does those 10 units only with 50% of the working day and slacks off and the harder worker takes the full day to do all 10, we have ourselves a big problem.

It means the lazy worker can be paid 2x to do your job as well. You are useless. Why should the lazy employee produce more? From their point of view, you are the lazy worker for being slow and thinking slow = quality. They just have a better way of doing the work than you do, and why should they train you if they get no rewards?

However, these types of workers are rare, because pay for performance does not exist equally. Most workplaces pay up to 25% bonuses for 2x 3x or 4x more work produced than the normal worker. Therefore, the lazy employee does not feel they should give the company that performance for the increase in pay, it is not reasonable. The employee expects 2x the pay for 2x the work, it makes sense. They are technically doing the work of two people and should be paid so, but most companies are cheap.

Hope that makes sense, lazy employees are just smarter than you, just like Sports and Olympics, there are people who are simply stronger, faster, and smarter than you.

Either due to training, genetics, or a mix of the two. That is the reality of life, some people have to work harder than others.

2. Lazy employees may be quite a generic term here. I will read it to mean employees who know how to work the system.

However, to simply say employees get rewarded because they know how to work the system is only partially true. Sure there are many of these types of employees around and we have all been very frustrated when working alongside them. They let you carry the load and then step forward when the credit is being attributed and take their undeserving share.

Only part of this is down to their knowledge of the system.

The other part of the equation is that their ‘working of the system’ is often tolerated and sometimes even encouraged (though, this may not be the intended outcome). Management carries a significant part of the blame for this happening.

There could be 2 perspectives:

  • The seemingly lazy employees might actually be more efficient than their peers and might give a perception that they are not working as hard as the others but the fact of the matter is that they might be more capable and working smarter.
  • In an environment that encourages nepotism, these employees might be spending more time networking with their seniors and might be building a perception that they are working very hard.

3. Lazy and Hard Working are value judgments. In the workplace, it is likely not your role to assess these qualities, unless you are the boss.

It may be possible that the supposed “lazy” ones work smarter/faster, rather than the “hard working” ones.

If all are being paid, and no one receives RECOGNITION, then no one is specifically being “rewarded”.

  • Lazy people who are rewarded are usually good at hacking the system.

They know what is rewarded and what is not. And they put all of their effort – dearth as it may be – into maximizing the output that is measured and rewarded.

They figure out how to make themselves the person who is given credit for a production that is much bigger than themselves.

Laziness is not a virtue, however.

Those who combine hard work with an understanding of the system read the greatest rewards.

4. There’s the strange phenomenon of the work place where relationships sometimes matter more than the work you put in.

In other words, making good friends with the boss could have said boss throw the heavy work onto others while you’re given preferential treatment. The end result of course is the ability to further your relationship with said boss.

Meanwhile, the other lackeys are busy busting ass to the breaking point, but given the lesser attention of the boss, in the latter’s eyes you’re the teacher’s pet, the pick of the litter, which by virtue makes you prime candidate for promotions or a raise.

Now, as for the “why”, it’s simply because management fails to properly keep all staff equally accountable. But to be fair, that is hard, especially with larger teams, complicated projects, and office politics to navigate. You can try to be a star leader among your department’s team, but the backstabbing managers in other teams and your own team members’ ambitions or conflicts with each other could negate your efforts. Not to say it isn’t worth it, but such an environment only means that rewarding laziness and blame games is basically how things operate at the consent of the upper management level.

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