Let's face it, we've probably all had a case of the Mondays at some point in our lives. We've partied too hard over the weekend, were a slave to chores around the house, just got back from vacation, or simply needed a little extra sleep that morning. No matter what the reason, getting workers enthused about their job, whether it's Monday or Friday, can be difficult at times. However, a recent report from CareerBuilder would suggest that at least part of the struggle with growing a business lies with a distracted workforce.
Five habits that are killing workers' productivity
In its survey, which spanned the U.S. and questioned 2,175 hiring and human resource managers, close to half (45%) noted that work quality suffered due to the consequences of having a distracted worker or workforce. Additionally, 30% noted lower worker morale since co-workers had to pick up the slack for the distracted worker, a quarter reported a poor relationship between management and workers, 24% affirmed missed deadlines, and 21% of HR managers interviewed suggested their company lost revenue due to distracted workers.
What sort of distractions did hiring and HR managers pinpoint? According to CareerBuilder, these were the top five habits that are killing workers' productivity:
- Cell phones/texting (52%)
- The Internet (44%)
- Gossip (37%)
- Social media (36%)
- Email (31%)
You'll note that co-workers dropping by, and smoke breaks or snack breaks, didn't even make the top five! But, the clear indications is that as workplaces become more connected, digitally, and our access to digital stimulants grows easier -- a computer on our desk and a smartphone in our pocket or purse -- the desire to take a break from our daily jobs, or multiple breaks for that matter, is growing.
That's bad news for businesses that don't understand how to adapt.
Based on the survey, though, most businesses (74%) are trying to cope with lower worker productivity by mitigating some of the aforementioned habits. For instance, a third of the survey respondents noted that certain Internet websites are banned in the workplace, while close to a quarter (23%) have banned personal calls or cell phones in the workplace. Another 21% are attempting to set scheduled lunch and break times, as well as monitor emails and Internet use.
Revolutionizing the balance between work and play
While these actions may help counteract some workplace productivity killers, they don't exactly inspire workers to try harder. In today's rapidly evolving and connected personal and business world, there needs to be a middle ground where employees have options to express themselves, either on their smartphones or through games, and have the freedom to complete their assigned task. It's a radical idea at balancing work with play, but a few companies have grabbed the bull by the horns are running with the concept.
Google, which is no stranger to being voted as the best company to work for (it's held the top spot on Fortune's "100 Best Companies to Work For" six times), does its best to make the workplace something of a small community for its employees. There's an onsite fitness center and medical care facility, it offers paid time off if you volunteer in the local community, it offers college tuition reimbursement, and in addition to three weeks' vacation Google employees get unlimited sick days. It's no wonder that there are 140 applicants, on average, per every job opening. By offering perks Google has kept its workforce happy; and a happy workforce is a productive workforce.
Working within a cubicle was also cited by hiring and HR managers as a productivity killer, although it didn't make the top five habits mentioned above. One way this is being combated is through the removal of the walls surrounding your workspace. Instead of cubicles, businesses are giving rise to flexible workspaces, or flexspaces that allow interaction and innovation among employees.
For example, Accenture canned the cubicle model in 2001 in favor of shared workspaces with the option for some employees to telecommute (i.e. work from home or wherever there's an Internet connection). The result of these added freedoms has been incredible. By tearing down cubicle walls Accenture reduced its required office space by 50% between 2001 and 2013, yet it simultaneously grew its sales and headcount. An internal survey also showed workers to be more satisfied and engaged with their job than ever before.
Why this matters
Why should you care what businesses you don't work for are doing to boost worker satisfaction and productivity in the workplace? Simple: a happier and more productive workforce often translates into lower costs and bigger profits. If you're an investor in the stock market, that's music to your ears.
According to Nic Marks of the New Economics Foundation, happiness is the key to worker productivity. Per Marks,
People who are happier at work are more productive -- they are more engaged, more creative, have better concentration. The difference in productivity between happy and unhappy people at work can range between 10-50%. That's 10% for non-complex repetitive tasks, or up to 40-50% in service and creative industries.
What's a good way to measure worker happiness? While there aren't any formal measurements of worker engagement, Glassdoor ratings from current and former employees will often give you a good idea of what workers think about a business. A highly rated business on Glassdoor would definitely give an investor a reason to take a closer look.
Over the coming years we're likely to see the work environment continue to evolve as technology takes hold, but businesses that are willing to embrace this change are going to be the most likely to succeed. That's an important takeaway for investors.
Sean Williams has no material interest in any companies mentioned in this article. You can follow him on CAPS under the screen name TMFUltraLong, track every pick he makes under the screen name TrackUltraLong, and check him out on Twitter, where he goes by the handle @TMFUltraLong.
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