3 Causes of Workplace Human Error and What to Do About Them

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Contributed by Ashley Wilson

Ashley Wilson is a digital nomad and writer for hire, specialized in business and tech topics. In her self-care time, she practices yoga via Youtube. She has been known to reference movies in casual conversation and enjoys trying out new food. You can get in touch with Ashley via email or Twitter.

Ashley Gwen Wilson is a content creator, writing about business and tech.

Human error is inevitable, whether it’s related to scheduling, using new software, or a simple memory lapse.

As a manager, human error can mean that your optimal productivity goals aren’t met, or if you’re an employee, not getting the promotion that you want.

It’s important to understand the most common causes of human error so that you can take preventative measures before they occur. Below are three of the most common causes of human error in a workplace environment, and how to fix them.

1. Multitasking

While it might seem like multitasking can increase efficiency by allowing your employees to work on multiple things at once, this tends to increase lapses in memory and other types of human error. Additionally, dividing focus over multiple tasks has been shown to reduce productivity by 40%.

It’s far better to allow your employees to focus on one thing at a time and let them finish it before working on another.

As a manager, encourage your employees to focus on certain tasks during set timeframes. Allow employees to devote their entire focus to the work at hand. Still, be careful not to structure your employee’s days too much, or you might conflict with their desired work patterns.

As an employee, if you do not have the freedom to set aside long blocks of time to focus exclusively on certain tasks, you can bring this up with management. This way, you can potentially free up more time so you don’t feel the need to multitask.

Facilitating communication between management and employees develops a better understanding of the other sides’ goals. Without making a conscious effort to do this, communication can become a harmful blindspot for your company, and cause more problems in the future.

2. Poor Training

Employees can’t be expected to be proficient in tasks they weren’t trained in.

As a manager, it is critical to train new hires thoroughly, both with explicit training and real practice at the work they will be doing. Providing training early on also allows you to learn about individual employees’ work style, strengths, and weaknesses.

Training is not just important for new hires. The business landscape is constantly changing. With that comes new technologies, trends, and required knowledge. Older employees can sometimes become lost in an adapting workplace, or become confused with new business practices and features. This has the potential to hurt their productivity and mental state.

To mitigate this, it’s important to commit to continuous training of your current employees. While this might seem expensive, it will be worth it in the long run, as it will allow for greater adaptability of your more senior employees and allow them to constantly hone their skills. This will keep them from falling behind in a changing environment, letting them maintain their productivity for longer.

3. Not Reviewing Work

Reviewing work is essential for catching errors. It’s important to get a second set of eyes on any work before it makes its way to management or a client.

To prevent silly mistakes and improve your work quality, ask for a more experienced member of your team to take a look at your work product for you before it goes anywhere outside your organization.


As a manager, it’s important to be accessible, and not punish mistakes if they are rare. Instead, support your employees. Ask questions about the nature of the mistake and how you might be able to help.

If you punish mistakes, that only makes employees more reluctant to share mistakes when they happen. It’s much better to have employees share mistakes than cover them up.

As an employee, it’s important to let your manager know as soon as possible about an issue. This allows you to come up with a game plan to mitigate the issue and allows for a quicker recovery. Finally, treat mistakes as learning opportunities.

For more information, please review the infographic below provided courtesy of Secureframe, Inc.

Human Error Prevention

I'm Allison Dunn,

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