Workplace distraction

Workplace Distractions: Practical Solutions to Boost Your Employee Productivity Levels

Today, employee productivity ranks high on human capital management strategies as more HR managers discover the link between reduced workplace distractions and top-performing businesses.

Gallup reports that companies with higher employee engagement see 17% greater productivity.

However, as recently as 2018, 74% of Millennials and Gen Zers, who make up the majority of America’s current workforce, concede that workplace distractions do adversely affect their productivity levels.

In 2017, CareerBuilder conducted a survey in which three-quarters of employers shared that they’d lost up to two or more productive hours a day due to workplace distractions.

Udemy’s in-depth 2018 Workplace Distractions Report confirms that more than half of the US workforce could do better at work if they were not so distracted.

With these statistics in mind, HR managers must, therefore, look into practical initiatives aimed at boosting employee productivity.

Technology has changed the global work landscape entirely. Organizations are no longer confined to a single address, time zone, working hours or physical location.

Today’s employers, and by extension their workforce, have one or more of the following features:

  • access to collaborative digital tools
  • cross-country or cross-continent business
  • more open-plan offices
  • faster internet access
  • more social media access

The above features are instrumental for companies because they mean:

  • modern communication styles
  • a more engaged workforce
  • quick access to data and information
  • cost savings associated with less logistical planning
  • high productivity due to flexible hours

But as much as technology benefits companies, it also has the potential to distract a big portion of the workforce.

A distracted workforce leads to a vicious cycle with employee dissatisfaction at its core. Distracted employees are less productive during designated working hours, leading to longer workdays and higher frustration levels. All these elements culminate in a lack of employee engagement and motivation.

As part of human capital management, HR managers are tasked with looking into ways to support the entire workforce in providing long-term value to the company.

The following are some simple strategies that HR managers can employ to help their employees keep today’s workplace distractions at bay:

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Introduce Golden Hour(s)

The golden hour concept is among the global best-practice strategies suggested for human capital management. It’s also an excellent opportunity to improve employee engagement.

For just an hour (or more, depending on each company’s unique goals), the organization creates a focused and distraction-free environment where:

  • all social apps, chat platforms, and notifications are blocked
  • there is no phone usage allowed
  • employees do not check, send or engage with emails
  • no meetings are scheduled or held
  • no outside visitors are allowed

Using this concept, HR managers can improve productivity while encouraging employees to harness their focus and manage their attention and tasks.

This type of strategy requires employers to effectively communicate before implementation is considered. Using surveys, the HR manager can give space to employees to share their views, thoughts, and suggestions on how the company’s golden hour would look.

From these surveys and even face-to-face focus groups, an organization will find the right data to help identify optimal golden hour options, entirely based on the team’s natural working pace.

While employees may have some initial skepticism, more often than not, they are more inclined to embrace this strategy.

Providing a distraction-free work environment is a savvy human capital strategy. If successfully implemented, the golden hour strategy should ideally result in increased productivity and employee morale. Other benefits include:

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  • better output quality
  • improved time management
  • increased employee engagement
  • improved workforce utilization
  • minimized stress
  • better work-life balance culture
  • higher talent retention
  • more family time for everyone

Focused work time enables them to double down efforts on core projects and get more work done.

The golden hour significantly increases the chances of adding an extra hour a day for each employee.

For context, if this happened to a company that employs more than 5,000 employees, the golden hour could add $400 million annually to its bottom line.

Proper Training on New Technology

The return on investment employers get from training and developing employees is almost a no-brainer.

With the right training and development, HR practitioners can expand their employees’ knowledge base, converting them into a highly skilled and more productive workforce.

Technology is a core aspect of today’s business landscape; its use is undeniable. However, onboarding and understanding of new technology require attention.

Each brand-new software and device upgrade a company takes on has the potential for misuse and exasperation.

To avoid situations where technology becomes a distraction in a company, HR practitioners must get ahead of the curve by facilitating a collaborative effort to master the new technology.

Through open and consistent communication, the HR managers must reinforce the purposes and intentions of any new tools, making sure to align the benefits of these new technologies with their collective company goals.

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Have Clear Communication Guidelines

A streamlined communication culture should be taught and practiced from the first day of hiring new employees, and every day after.

Training employees to cut back on excessive email communication leads to a more efficient workforce.

Due to the fast-paced nature of today’s business environment, employees often find themselves spending more time dealing with one form of digital communication or another.

This takes away the time required for communicating and collaborating with other coworkers on important projects. HR managers must, therefore, ensure a corporate culture of a need to do communication.

One approach HR managers can use to encourage email efficiency is the inbox zero methodology where all emails fall under four categories: do, defer, delegate, or delete.

Another option is to use a more tailored platform like World Manager’s communication tool to shift conversations to a more manageable system.

Employees should be encouraged to routinely “plan” email and social interruptions. They should only look at and respond to chats and emails during pre-determined time blocks and avoid needlessly cc-ing other coworkers.

HR managers can also set guidelines for meetings. Sharing information such as objectives or agendas in advance shaves off more time that would have been wasted on preliminaries.

Provide Options and Flexibility

Noise is one of the leading workplace distractors, especially in open-plan offices.

This study shows that ambient sounds found in offices increase epinephrine levels — the body’s trigger for the fight-or-flight response. This, in turn, initiates feelings of anger or irritation among employees, ruining productivity and creating resentment.

Open-plan offices can be great for communal roles like design and project management, but for subtler occupations, like web developing and writing, HR managers can allow:

  • noise-canceling headphones
  • the inclusion of a quiet cubicle
  • working from home a few days per week

These simple tweaks could not only help employees focus better, but also increase their loyalty as they will feel that their employer cares for their needs.

Make Employee Well-Being a Priority

An anxious workforce is not good for business.

77% of American employees want more time off to rest and recharge, while 71% want more frequent stress-relieving breaks today.

Research shows that people tend to overcompensate for workplace distractions by working longer hours or trying to work faster.

But these two tactics more often than not lead to increased stress and anxiety and lower quality of life and work.

With over half of America’s workforce looking to their employers for more time to recharge and regroup, today’s forward-thinking employer actively facilitates time and space for stress relief while at work.

HR Managers can rise to the occasion by identifying their company’s busiest time periods and planning for them in order to:

  1. Assist employees in managing their workload
  2. Relieve potential stress from excessive departmental meetings
  3. Monitor the flow of email communications
  4. Fine-tune the process of creating and assigning tasks

To achieve the above, HR managers can simply leverage technology to allow them to share information on the cloud.

The key to success for business lies in harnessing employee productivity.

Through the right human capital management strategies, seamless communication, and custom-made human resource tools, success is almost certain.

Book a demo with World Manager today to learn how to get the best out of your employees.

Don’t stop there, find out what else your employees need with these free employee engagement posters!

Disclaimer: This information is meant to provide general guidelines and should be used as a reference. It may not take into account all relevant local, state or federal laws and is not a legal document. Neither the author nor World Manager will assume any legal liability that may arise from the use of this information.

The best companies use World Manager to train staff, maintain standards, and set the company up on the road to success.