Tips for EAP Practitioners: Managing Unpredictable Downtime | EAPA-SA

Depending on the industry you are in, the severity of the consequences of unplanned organisation-wide downtime can vary greatly and include:

  1. Loss of revenue or additional costs incurred, reducing profitability
  2. IT recovery costs
  3. Negative effects on staff productivity and morale


When it comes to managing employee productivity and morale in the wake of unplanned downtime planning ahead is the solution to effectively minimising the negative impact of the downtime.  Being prepared is essential.

  1. The most important way to manage the impact of downtime is to effectively communicate with your staff, customers and service providers. There is nothing more frustrating and stress-provoking for these key groups than a lack of communication.
  2. Managing expectations is essential to keeping things afloat in the midst of chaos. Keep the channels of communications open, then do whatever needs to be done to minimise the duration of the downtime.

What about downtime when it comes to ebb and flow in an employee’s work load or an individual employee misusing or wasting time? It is important to investigate and ascertain what factors are at play that allow or encouraging the employee to waste time? Consider these three different alternatives

1. You can confront the individual. If you believe there is a consistent pattern of negative behaviour, then confrontation followed by corrective action is likely the most appropriate course of action. Set, communicate and measure their performance expectations.

2. Consider redesigning the work environment to ensure that all members of staff are equally busy and productive; and that they are each made aware that their work is needed and valued.

  • This usually requires rethinking each employee’s job content and ascertaining how else they can contribute to a productive outcome for clients and the company. Making sure they understand the importance of their roles and tasks also helps.
  • Additional training, retraining or further development may be required which will demonstrate your investment in your employees.

3. Consider training of management. If a leader does not set goals and expectations for the team to achieve, then the team will set their own and do what they want – including wasting as much time as they can. Leaders get paid to produce results through the combined efforts of their team members. When the leader does a poor job of leading, the team will likely decide what they will do and when they feel like doing it. 1




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