We’ve all seen it. An employee’s quick click to a screen that isn’t social media, or hiding a cell phone when a manager is headed their way. The time-suck epidemic is worse than ever with 46 percent of millennials and 45 percent of Generation X admitting to wasting time at work every day surfing the internet, according to Lost Minutes: Employee Time-Wasting Examined, a recent Paychex survey of 2,000 full-time employees.
Leaders blame this on employees who are distracted, self-involved, or even lazy. But what if it’s your fault staff members are ending up in social media land? Disengaged employees who lack proper leadership and guidance become disinterested in their work — or sometimes bored.
Distractions in the workplace may be more prevalent and harmful than employers realize. In fact, a recent CareerBuilder survey revealed 75 percent of employees spend two or more hours distracted at work. These distractions cause 48 percent of employees to compromise the quality of their work and 38 percent believe it lowers company morale because co-workers need to pick up the slack.
Website blockers aren’t doing the trick anymore. So, it’s crucial that company leaders find the source of distractions and start doing more for employees. These are the top three reasons your employees are losing focus:
1. Annual performance review
Speaking of wasting time — outdated annual performance reviews are holding your team back from reaching their highest potential. Motivation and productivity are slowed when employees are unsure of how well they’re doing through most of the year. Those who are already easily distracted are more likely to lose focus if they’re unsure of goals and expectations.
Those who continue to use the annual performance review aren’t remaining stagnant in progress — they’re actually declining. Recently, my company, Quantum Workplace, released our What’s New In Employee Performance Management Trends and found 77.8 percent of disengaged organizations currently use annual performance reviews. What’s even more surprising is 30 percent of those traditional reviews end up decreasing employee performance.
Help direct your employees’ attention by discussing monthly goals and tasks in one-on-one meetings. Make these meetings a safe place for your team to express their concerns or task discrepancies that may be leading them off-track. Frequent and immediate feedback is another way to ensure employees understand where they’re excelling and areas that need improvement. If an employee is struggling with staying on task or completing projects on time, brainstorm together to find ways that will help refocus their energy throughout the day.
2. Ignoring recognition
Recognition is often met with an eyeroll from leaders because they imagine everyone receiving a pat on the back for every completed task. But if you haven’t yet tried motivating time-wasting employees, it’s time to reconsider a recognition program.
Our research found an impressive 90 percent of employees are motivated by positive feedback. It goes to say for anyone, but employees are more willing to put forth extra effort when they know leaders appreciate it. However, the weight of recognition shouldn’t all be placed on managers’ shoulders. In fact, according to our survey respondents, 88 percent of peer-reviewed employees are happier with their jobs. Giving your organization the tools to lift up employees might be enough to pull distracted employees away from their smartphones.
Set up an online recognition program for co-workers to recognize each other’s hard work and determination. Adding rewards to recognition “points” adds a fun and competitive twist to boost company morale, teamwork, and productivity.
3. Not giving immediate feedback
Many employees have ongoing or similar projects from week to week. Without the appropriate amount of feedback, employees may resort to common distractions rather than asking questions about how well they’re doing.
While recognition and positive feedback is crucial for boosting morale and motivation, employees understand — and welcome — negative feedback. Our research shows two-thirds of employees want immediate feedback at work, even if it’s negative. Giving your team the opportunity to correct their mistakes before moving onto the next step in a project will help them stay focused on the end goal.
Keep a constant flow of communication between employees, co-workers, and leaders to ensure everyone is on the same page. When employees clearly understand what they’re doing right, or what needs corrected before moving on, they’ll be less likely to wander from the task at hand.
Because they are fully absorbed and enthusiastic about their work, engaged employees are more likely to stay focused, motivated, and productive. Opening your door to discuss what methods of communication and recognition work best for each employee will give them the tools to be less distracted at work.
Greg Harris is the president and CEO of Quantum Workplace, a company dedicated to providing every organization with quality engagement tools that guide their next step in making work better every day.