Insurance · 29 March 2016

Five sure-fire ways to improve employee workplace concentration

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Frequent casual conversation in the workplace can limit employee productivity

Email notifications, phone calls, catch-ups in the kitchen – with so many workplace distractions, it can be easy for attention levels to plummet and for productivity to suffer. Here, Business Advice offers up some suggestions on how to keep staff focused on the task in hand.

The workplace can be noisy, busy and frenetic. And while some people thrive in a buzzy environment, it’s important to make sure that those who work best in quieter conditions aren’t ignored. Whatever an individual’s personality, noise tolerance or ability to multitask, here are a few tips to ensure their engagement and attention levels remain constant.

Music in the workplace

While listening to the radio can give some people a boost, turning on can cause some to tune out and feel frustrated. If you do allow music to be played, make sure there is a consensus and select songs democratically. According to NHS research, music can have a beneficial impact on people’s ability to focus, but only if they like it. Conduct a secret vote via email so everyone gets their say without fear of being swayed into making a decision that will negatively affect their work.

Handling workplace conversations

Downtime at work is important, but casual conversations can disturb those not immediately involved, whilst frequent talkers can lose their focus. Don’t be too draconian, but if an employee is repeatedly talking too much, ask them for a meeting to discuss the problem. If there is more than one overly chatty employee, talk to them individually.

Juggling workloads

‘Busy working’ is the modern phenomena of employees confusing the time it takes to do something with actual results. Help employees understand the importance of working smarter, not harder by discouraging overtime and making sure they take a lunchbreak, whilst also being firm on deadlines. If they are struggling, simply making a list can help them focus and prioritise.

Forget multitasking

In the modern world, doing several things at once is held up as the epitome of peak efficiency, but juggling several tasks at once is, for most of us, the least effective way of working and has been proven to be scientifically impossible. Rather than creating distractions such as checking emails, why not suggest staff set aside time slots to check their inbox – say once every two hours – and don’t expect an immediate response from your own communications.

Hit your rhythm

Peak alertness occurs at 10am, coordination is best at 2pm and reaction times are fastest around 3pm. Allocate tasks that need little concentration for times when employees might not be powering on all levels, such as straight after lunch.

Dealing with disruptive employees and making sure the environment works for everyone whilst teaching staff to organise their own working day to rid themselves of distractions will benefit them and your business in the short and long term.

Incentivising employees in the right way could be the key to unlocking your micro firm’s productivity problems. Read on to find out more.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Hunter Ruthven was previously editor of Business Advice. He was also the editor of Real Business, the UK's most-read website for entrepreneurs and business leaders at the helm of growing SMEs.

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