Companies can save millions of dollars by helping workers manage distraction. According to recent research, it’s not only possible but you can do it with a simple shift of perception (that will ultimately affect corporate culture, employee morale, overall productivity and, ultimately, the corporate bottom-line). Rather than focusing on “time management” issues in your organization, recognize that attention management is now more important. In my experience, the habits of most knowledge workers actually undermine their ability to manage distraction, and this is a major focus of my new book, Work Without Walls.
Attention management encompasses the fact that how one manages time is only relevant to the extent that one’s attention is also managed. It also factors employee’s state of mind as an important contribution to knowledge worker success. Just thirteen percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s new study on the State of the Global Workplace. That means that only about one in eight workers are psychologically committed to their jobs and likely to be making positive contributions to their organizations. This not only affects company performance but costs U.S. companies $450 – $550 billion a year (CBS News).
According to one study, one million workers miss work each day due to stress, costing employers an estimated $600 per worker each year. As I illustrate throughout my book, constant distraction is stressful.
The book also discusses sleep and its importance to knowledge worker outcomes. Harvard scientists have estimated that sleep deprivation costs U.S. companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity per year, mainly because of “presenteeism” – people showing up for work but operating at subpar levels.
Another contributing factor is that busywork feels like accomplishment. Output is very different from meaningful outcomes (as I discuss in chapter 7). Another theme proven throughout the book is that happy employees have a 12% spike in productivity while unhappy employees are 10% less productive (University of Warwick). Attitude improves where there is focus and contribution to meaningful results—in other words, when busy people are able to successfully manage distraction.
Companies could save millions of dollars by making a “focus” of attention management. (Get it? 😉