Don’t Ignore the Dangers of Underperforming Employees

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Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Picture this! Your team is struggling to meet deadlines, the quality of work is suffering, and morale is at an all-time low. As a leader, it’s your responsibility to identify the root of the problem and take action. But what if the culprit is right under your nose? Underperforming employees can be a ticking time bomb for any organization, yet we overlook or ignore them. 

A common unsaid reason is that a team member may be one of our friends!

In this blog, we’ll explore the dangers of underperforming employees and why it’s crucial to address the issue. 

Don’t wait until it’s too late – read on to discover how to spot, manage, and transform underperforming employees into valuable assets for your team.

Photo by Icons8 Team on Unsplash

Who is an underperforming employee??

An underperforming employee is someone who is not meeting expectations.

In a global survey by Gallup, only 21% of employees reported feeling engaged at work in 2022, while 19% reported feeling disengaged actively. Disengaged employees are more likely to underperform.

An underperforming employee can cost you money in lost productivity, recruitment, and training costs. They can also lead to stress in the workplace and create an ill work environment. It leads to performance issues from other employees too.

In addition, an underperforming employee may damage team morale and cohesion. Therefore, it is important to identify and address any issues as soon as they arise.

By doing so, you can help your underperforming employees improve their performance and achieve their full potential.

What are the top 10 causes of underperformance?

It is straightforward. Here is what employees experience and underperform. We also mention the main contributor to each cause.

  1. Lack of skills or training – Management
  2. Insufficient motivation or engagement – Self
  3. Personal or emotional issues – Self
  4. Health problems or physical limitations – Self
  5. Poor working conditions or lack of resources – Management
  6. Miscommunication or unclear expectations – Management
  7. Micromanagement or lack of autonomy – Management
  8. Burnout or fatigue – Management
  9. Distractions or interruptions – Self
  10. Ineffective leadership or management – Management

How to detect underperforming employees?

Below are some proven methods to detect underperformance. 

Ensure honesty with the workforce when you perform the below activities. 

How many of these have you already implemented to identify performance problems?

  1. Monitor attendance and punctuality.

    Looks for absenteeism signs! Employees may be struggling with motivation or personal issues.

  2. Track productivity and quality.

    Implement measures to track employees’ productivity and quality. First Time Right (FTR) metrics etc.

  3. Listen to feedback from colleagues and customers.

    Look for complaints and red flags against management.

  4. Conduct regular performance evaluations.

    Schedule regular check-ins with employees to discuss their progress and identify areas for improvement.

  5. Observe their behavior and attitude.

    Look for negativity, low morale, or a poor attitude. That may be the reason for underperforming.

THREE dangers of underperforming employees when they overstay.

There might be many factors that impact the company when underperforming employees overstay. Here are 3 key dangers to sum it up.

  1. Reduced productivity: Underperforming employees may not be able to complete tasks efficiently, leading to missed deadlines, incomplete work, and lost productivity for the organization.
  2. Damage to customer relationships: If underperforming employees are in customer-facing roles, their poor performance can damage the organization’s reputation and relationships with clients.
  3. Cost to the organization: Underperforming employees may require more supervision, training, or coaching to improve their performance, leading to increased costs for the organization. In some cases – it may be more cost-effective to terminate an underperforming employee and hire someone new.

Is it possible to improve employee underperformance?

Yes, absolutely!

Underperformance is due to unresolved issues with the employees. It may be personal or professional.

Once you answer these issues, underperformance will automatically resolve itself.

A leader can use the above detectors to identify and find ways to help the employee.

If there is no change, termination is the best way (but the last resort) to save the rest of your team and their employee performance. 

Underperformers always stay for extended periods. Keep an eye out there.

Are there any tools to help?

Every organization with more than 100 employees must have these tools in place.

  1. Performance management software: It will help you track employee performance and provide data-driven insights on areas for improvement. Qualtrics can do the trick.
  2. Employee feedback tools: Check for enterprise software for surveys, focus groups, or feedback forms. They help collect feedback from employees.
  3. Training and development programs: Offer training and development opportunities, say, for example, LinkedIn Learning.
  4. Coaching and mentoring programs: Mentoring employees can help them improve their overall performance. Find mentors within your organization. Accenture has an in-house mentoring model that is world-class.
  5. Goal-setting tools: Goal-setting tools can help employees set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals to improve their performance.
  6. Time-tracking software: Though not a recommended method to implement for your employees. But in some cases, this comes in handy.
  7. Performance improvement plans: These give specific actions and timelines for employees to improve their performance. Check with your HR – they are masters in creating one.


Underperforming employees can significantly impact a company’s productivity, reputation, and overall success. 

Identify the root cause of underperformance, whether it’s a lack of skills, motivation, or personal issues. 

By monitoring attendance, tracking productivity and quality, and conducting regular evaluations, leaders can spot underperformance early on and provide support to help employees improve. 

However, if underperformance persists, it may be necessary to terminate an employee to avoid long-term consequences. 

Leaders can leverage performance management software, employee feedback tools, training and development programs, coaching and mentoring programs, goal-setting tools, time-tracking software, and performance improvement plans. 

By taking proactive steps to address underperformance, leaders can transform underperforming employees into valuable assets for their teams.

Hoomale is a hub of thought-provoking articles on various subjects, from company operations to the mindset and behavior of young people to future work and tech. Stay informed and educated with our captivating reads.

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