New Talent Pulse Research from HCI Explores Impact of Distractions in the Workplace
As Employees Face a Number of Work-related and Personal Interruptions, Employers Must Help Their Teams Find Focus and Minimize Negative Effects
NEW YORK (September 29, 2014) – The Human Capital Institute (HCI), the global institution for strategic talent management, today announced the release of its latest Talent Pulse, a quarterly research eBook exploring the biggest trends and challenges in managing talent. In this new report, “The Mindful Employee: Finding Focus in the Age of Distractions,” the organization addresses the growing issues of having too many distractions at work and increasing demands on employees’ time. HCI researchers explore the impact on productivity and offer best practices to help employees remain engaged and productive.
As technology continues to advance and accessibility to electronic applications, email and websites increases, combined with traditional factors like co-worker conversations, poorly designed workspaces or personal issues, employees today have more distractions than ever. And while some distractions can actually have a positive effect, giving employees the opportunity to pause from their responsibilities and refresh, too many can cause a lack of focus and have a drastic impact on both individual and organizational productivity. As the prevalence of workplace distractions continues to grow, employers must identify the policies, strategies and training programs that can help steer their employees through the distractions of their daily lives.
In the research, HCI explores how organizations are managing distractions and distracted employees in the workplace. The findings are based on surveys of nearly 900 individuals, representing both individual contributors and those in managerial or leadership roles. In addition to the survey responses, HCI conducted in-depth interviews with a number of experts and drew upon several secondary sources on the subject of workplace distractions. Key findings from the research include:
- Most common distractions: The top-rated distractions as reported by individual contributors were found to be co-worker side chatter, internal email, lack of sleep, performing tasks unrelated to position goals and personal internet use.
- Differences by generation: Distractions also vary according to age, with millennials being the most affected by personal technology devices and spending the most time on non-work-related activities.
- Organizational policies: The overwhelming majority believe it is the responsibility of managers and individual employees to manage workplace distractions. Only half report that it falls in the hands of the HR department. In addition, most organizations that do have policies regarding technology usage at work report that it is rarely (13 percent) or moderately (39 percent) enforced.
- Reducing workplace distractions: Only a few respondents’ organizations are implementing interventions aimed at reducing distractions and increasing employees’ productivity. Of those organizations that reduced the frequency of meetings or implemented a “no device” policy during meetings, the majority (79 percent and 74 percent, respectively) report these methods to be effective at reducing distractions for their employees.
- Benefits of mindfulness: Most talent management leaders surveyed recognized the attributes for attaining mindfulness to be important or very important for their employees, such as being psychologically present in the work (94 percent), attentive and focused on the task (97 percent) and being conscious of distractions or mind-wandering (89 percent). However, only 20 percent offer mindfulness training to their employees.
- Distractions at work are an exercise in moderation: Individuals need them throughout the day to allow working minds to reset, but too many damage the ability to be productive. The report offers recommendations for individuals and organizations to help them navigate that balance.
“While advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to connect with colleagues and customers and access needed information in seconds, these same devices and applications have also brought significant challenges to how employees do their jobs,” said Carl Rhodes, HCI’s chief executive officer. “The latest HCI Talent Pulse research investigates just how serious the problem is and what successful organizations are doing to mitigate the impact of distractions. Equipped with this knowledge, organizations can foster workplaces that help employees focus on the task at hand, maintain their productivity and help the company achieve its goals.”
HCI explores the topic of distractions in the workplace in a corresponding webcast, to be held on Thursday, October 2, 2014 at 3:00 p.m. EDT. Additional information and registration details can be accessed at: http://www.hci.org/lib/hci-signature-research-mindful-employee-finding-focus-age-distractions. Webcast registrants will receive a copy of the research report.
About HCI Research
HCI is a premier thought leader in the new discipline of strategic talent management with an unparalleled reputation for innovation, leadership and excellence, demonstrated through cutting-edge research and analysis. HCI Research draws from the knowledge of a large network of executive practitioners, expert consultants, leading academics and thought leaders, as well as thorough quantitative and qualitative analysis, to produce insightful findings and recommendations that shape strategy and encourage action across the continuum of talent management. To learn more, please visit: http://www.hci.org/content/research.
About Human Capital Institute (HCI)
Human Capital Institute is the first choice for HR professionals and organizations who have decided to accelerate their journey from traditional, tactical specialists to strategic, high-impact business partners. HCI seeks to educate, empower, and validate strategic talent management professionals to impact business results through the acquisition of insights, skills and tools that are contextualized through research, practice, expert guidance, peer learning, and self-discovery. Visit HCI.org to learn more.