Dear Doc,

I am Tired of Co-Workers Who Do Not Carry Their Load. Why is it that some people refuse to carry their load at work? You know the type, they can waste more time doing nothing, or they are always going on break or making a phone call. Why do some people get away with goofing off? I am tired of carrying the load and doing the work so that I can get off work at a decent time. What can we do?

Dear Bushed,

Believe you me that we have all been in this spot before, whether it was a group project in elementary school or in our adult workplace. Let’s just walk through each question one by one. Some people refuse to carry their load at work for a variety of reasons. It could simply be because they do get away with it. If I can do nothing and get paid for doing something, where do I sign? It could also be a passive aggressive way of balancing low respect or wages against what they feel their time is worth. Trust me, I do know the type very well. People get away with goofing off because of enabling folks like you. The harder you work to cover their failure to work, the easier and more validated their inaction becomes. Now, what can ‘we’ do? Please tell me that the stress and mental anguish caused by this situation hasn’t caused you to develop multiple personalities, because that is a whole separate issue. What you can do is confront these able slackers and give them an ultimatum. Share with them how upset you are with the current arrangement and also how quickly you can dig a 6 foot hole for each and every one of them that continues to sit idly by while you carry the bulk of the workload. If they think this is an empty threat, you may have to take one of them out, just to set the mood for further negotiations. This is typically more effective if the act itself is witnessed by the other offending parties. A side note, sometimes your locale can help with making the point that you refuse to be walked on, as well as with the disposal of the said example coworker. Do you live near an alligator ranch, or perhaps a hog farm, a piranha hatchery, a wildlife rescue, a military bomb test site, a nuclear waste dump, a car crushing yard, an industrial pottery kiln, etc. I could go on, but I trust you see my point. If this display of unabashed disgust for their work ethic fails to get the results you desire, you may need to discuss the situation with management and your HR department.

Thanks for your letter,

Doc Dover