Reducing Workplace Error

Back to Workplace Dynamics

Some employees have more accidents than others, some workers make more errors than others and some work environments provide a classic example of Murphy's Law: "If anything can go wrong, it will." One worker misplaces the paperwork, another conveys the wrong message, a third does the job with the wrong materials. Alone, each of these errors may not seem that significant but together they rob your organization of valuable time and productivity. 

So, what are some of the common causes of "mistakes"? 

  • Insufficient job training 
  • Unclear written or verbal communication 
  • Boredom with the job 
  • Insufficient supervision 
  • Failure to determine the cause of mistakes when they occur

To Guard Against Excessive Errors and Lost Productivity: 

  1. Define the standards that need to be met. 
    As you teach people new skills, also teach them how to monitor their work for errors. The best time to make the connection between quality, cost and productivity is when new employees come on board. 
  2. Do not allow errors to continue without investigation. 
    Often, mistakes just seem to happen but it only seems that way. Most mistakes have a cause. Find that cause and you help the worker remedy the problem. 
  3. Provide a coach for the "error" prone employee. 
    The coach might be a senior employee whose skills and know-how will find a constructive outlet in helping someone else. Experience will enable the coach to spot the cause of the errors and provide guidance for avoiding them. 
  4. Reassign the worker. 
    There will be situations when a worker just isn't suited to a particular job. The work may be too challenging and so the person should be reassigned to a less critical job. Or the work may not be challenging enough . . . and the errors result from boredom. If reassignment is not possible for the underchallenged employee, give the person additional responsibilities to make the job more rewarding.

Errors can be prevented . . . before costs increase and quality diminishes. In fact, most mistakes can be eliminated by closer supervision, more training, clearer orders and constructive supervisory intervention when the errors are identified.