The busy syndrome is one of the greatest enemies of organisational success

The busy syndrome is one of the greatest enemies of organisational success
Last Updated: July 4, 2022

What is the busy syndrome?

There is no credible denial that one of the most notorious bugs in the corporate world is the busy bee. If I may ask, “Is your company not a victim of the so-called busy syndrome\", which is our go-to response to the question of \"How are you doing?\" - \"I am sorry, I am so busy\". If you are the CEO of an organization you have to think twice before taking any step further and ask yourself, \"Are we focusing on value-adding activities or merely doing routine work which is of no value?\" Read this article to find out how top-performing CEOs are rising above the rest.


Let me make it very clear and loud that being busy does not necessarily mean you are doing productive work. Some employees add mundane everyday tasks to their list of tasks and create a false impression to the outside world that they are busy. If your employees are intending to add more value to their work they need to disabuse themselves of that notion. Some employees are masquerading as being busy yet they are basically doing nothing of value besides keeping themselves occupied. Surely if such employees are all that busy it must be reflected in their results.


When employees are very busy and they are multi-tasking, taking fewer breaks, and working longer hours, does it mean an improvement in organizational performance? Then if not, such employees who purport to be busy should be subjected to rigorous scrutinization and should be nailed on the cross for failing to prove the value of their busyness.


It is a supreme paradox that the best poor performers always claim to be busy. To add insult to injury they claim to be indispensable and suffer from the superiority complex. Surely if you are all that marketable and superior, why can't you do the honorable thing and go where you think you are adding value and being recognized. Such employees who purport to be always busy, their excellent performance should be reflected by their results. It never ceases to amaze me why when performance assessments are done there will be shocking results about their performance.


The advocates of the busy syndrome are such notorious cultural carriers that they contaminate the whole organization with a very toxic culture detrimental to the organization.  What I would advise is to get rid of such rogue cultural carriers who do nothing other than converting their workplaces into rumor mills via social media platforms. In an organization where the busy syndrome has taken root, employees tend to abuse social media. They spend the greater part of their day making other people their strong meat instead of investing their time and effort into productive work.


Measures for organizations to overcome the busy syndrome


There are quite a number of measures for your organization not to fall victim to the cancerous organizational disease called the busy syndrome. Therefore, in the light of such false glorification, it is imperative to draw the line between being busy and adding value to the organization so that all the employees are aligned on the same page. The following are some of the measures to overcome the busy syndrome for organizations:


Objective Performance Management System

Unfortunately, many organizations do not have objective performance measurement systems that differentiate average performers from best performers.  In cases where performance measurement systems are in place, they are just gathering dust in the shelves without being implemented and where there are implemented there have been partially implemented. On the same note, many organizations are misdirected and misinformed to the extent that there claim to have a performance management system when they use the subjective performance appraisal system. If you do not have a properly designed and objective performance management system, it is high time you should go back to the drawing board and come up with one.


Use of scientifically proven assessments (psychometric tests)

Yet another measure that can be taken to prevent the busy syndrome is to subject all your new employees to scientifically proven assessment tests like cognitive ability tests and personality tests. Psychometric tests assess the capacity of someone’s mental horsepower. In that way, you avoid a situation whereby your organization becomes a refugee camp for employees who are not capacitated and who turn out to be the vectors of the busy syndrome because they spend most of their time lying idle.


Personality tests help your organization in identifying one’s personality derailers and enablers. So if your organization uses personality tests prior to hiring an employee, it can detect people with personality defects. Employees with some detrimental personality defects are more vulnerable to the busy syndrome. In this way, your organization will not be a hibernating sanctuary of celebrated organizational fools who besides being extremely brilliant there do not add any meaningful value whatsoever to your organization.



If you implement some of the few measures highlighted in this article your organization will never go wrong and it ceases to be a breeding ground for laziness and complacency. We offer these services and you can view more details below:

Performance management - We assist organizations to improve their performance by helping them implement performance management and measurement systems at all levels within the organization. We have an automated performance management system based on the balanced scorecard framework. You can book a free trial and demonstration by clicking here today.

Psychometric tests - Our psychometric tests focus on aptitude and personality profiles. Read more by clicking here.


Newturn Wikirefu is the Talent Acquisition Manager at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm.

Phone +263 4 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or cell number +0784 597343 or email: or visit our website at 


Newturn Wikirefu
This article was written by Newturn a Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd

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