Improving Employee Accountability in the Workplace

Dr. Ryan Giffen

Employee accountability is vital to the success of a business. A machine needs various sizes of gears to keep running. Similarly, a business needs every employee, no matter how big or small their job is, to keep moving forward. If an employee isn’t accountable, it will be more difficult to reach your business’s short term and long term goals. When employees work together as a unit to reach these goals, a business becomes more efficient.

Sometimes, it can be hard to let an employee know that they are not being accountable. While confrontation can be hard, it is important. You must hold employees accountable for their lack of performance. Employees who are accountable will become frustrated that they are having to do more work to make up for a less accountable employee.

Accountability Meaning 

What is employee accountability? Let’s take a look at an employee’s accountability at work. This employee attends their entire shift, takes responsibility for various duties in the workplace, completes their daily tasks, works towards the business’s goal, and does the right thing while in the workplace. If an employee neglects any of these aspects of accountability, they are being unaccountable. How do you handle an unaccountable employee? How do you improve accountability at work?

Present Business Goals and Rules 

The first and most important step in improving employee accountability involves a list of clear rules and goals for the workplace. Sometimes, employers are not clear on what an employee should be working towards. Make your expectations for each employee clear. Due to this, an employee will be less accountable because they are unsure of a business’s expectations. Make these expectations clear as early as the initial interview of an employee.

Provide Immediate Feedback

Positive or negative, feedback should be provided to an employee immediately. In the case of a problem, the sooner it is addressed, the sooner the employee can correct themselves. Due to quick, consistent feedback, an employee will either flourish from consistent praise or perform better because of correction. This feedback can be difficult to maintain, as running a business is very busy work, but it can also eye-opening for you as an employer. Feedback isn’t just one-sided. You might find that you need to improve certain sections of employee-training or address a different problem among employees entirely.

Enforce Rewards and Consequences 

Nobody likes to dish out consequences in the workplace, but without consequences, employees will continue to remain unaccountable. Let’s say that an employer has found out about an employee slacking off in the back room of their establishment. So, if that employer doesn’t go through with warning the employee of any particular consequences, the employee will resume going into the back room. However, an employer that scolds the employee and warns them of potential punishment will push that employee to better their accountability.

On the other hand, it is just as important to reward employees. Employees who are accountable and great at their job may feel neglected or ignored without praise. A reward or a compliment will go a long way for an employee. Additionally, these actions can even raise the accountability of others, as other employees will observe their coworkers are getting rewarded and want the same.

About Dr. Ryan Giffen

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Ryan Giffen is an expert in human relations and business culture. His career began in hospitality, leading operations and human resource departments for Fortune 500 companies and the like. Not long after, Ryan found his passion for teaching and consulting. He earned a Ph.D. in Hospitality Management with a Human Resources focus from Iowa State University and now works as an assistant professor at California State University, Long Beach. For over a decade, he continues to research and speak on organizational culture, relationship intelligence, and leadership effectiveness. Ryan is also the founder of Inospire, a company helping bosses and employees build stronger relationships with one another.  Lastly, Dr. Giffen is producer and host of the Corporate Shadow Podcast. a show helping everyday employees overcome workplace nonsense.