Workplace Management: Addressing distractions and bad habits that reduce employee efficiency

3 Things You Can Do About It!

Are your employees complaining that they are overworked and overwhelmed with all that they must accomplish? What if your employees don’t know how to say “No” to additional work or unreasonable requests? Do you think your staff is even aware of the distractions that are pulling their attention away from their work? What workplace management changes can you facilitate to improve the way employees feel, and boost their productivity?

With social media and smartphone notifications, emails constantly filling our inbox, phone ringing, last minute requests, meetings and conversations held by colleagues right beside our cubicle, it’s no wonder that employees are leaving the workplace feeling like they worked all day but also feeling like they didn’t accomplish much at all. Talking openly about distractions, how they pull one’s attention from absorbed focus and setting standards around productivity is a reality that must be addressed.

Here are 3 simple and effective workplace management tips on how to boost employee performance and wellbeing.

Workplace Management Tip #1: Identify Distractions

Take the time to identify the distractions while working and come up with strategies to eliminate these energy suckers.

  • Awareness is key! Have your employees dedicate a day to monitor their distractions. Advise them to pick one distraction at a time and work to eliminate it, until all bad habits are trumped.
  • Avoid multitasking at all cost! See Harvard Business Review’s articlefor additional insights on minimizing office distractions.
  • Encourage employees to turn off their smartphone notifications.
  • Dedicate specific times to read and respond to emails.
  • Allow employees to work in a private area for focused work.
  • Create fun signs that say things like “hard focus, please do not disturb”.

Workplace Management Tip #2: Help Employees Prioritize Efficiently

Share tips on how to prioritize work effectively and witness your employees become productive rather than simply busy.

  • Dedicate a ‘Prioritize Your Work’ day every month! Start by having employees make a list of all the tasks/projects they are working on and all the things they want to do. In Tim Wilson’s “How to Prioritize Work and Get it All Done” article, he recommends breaking down the list of tasks in three different categories.
  • Ensure your staff prioritizes only urgent tasks first. This will ensure everybody is focused on what is moving the business forward.
  • Encourage your employees to create a plan for the week and make sure they leave some room for emergencies. This will make it more doable for your employees to say yes to your urgent requests.
  • Advertise this as much as possible, “stick to your plan!” Talk about it in the elevator, at the water cooler, definitely at meetings, and make it a common practice to ask, without judgment, “How are you doing with sticking to your plan?”
  • Encourage employees to take up to 15 minutes at the end of the day to prepare for the next day. Your employees will start their day focused and in productivity energy.
  • At the end of the week, make it common practice that the last 15-30 minutes of the day are focused on reviewing how they stuck to their plan. P.S.: Guilt usually sets in for anybody that couldn’t stick to the plan. Encourage this time to be for evaluation, learning and tweaking purposes for the next week ahead.

Workplace Management Tip #3: Guidance on Setting Boundaries

Break the “people pleasing” cycle and teach your employees to set boundaries and learn to say ‘No”.

  • Talk openly about how common it is for employees to fall in the “yes” trap to prove one’s worthiness and skill set. See this Forbes article: When to say no at work (and why it’s important)for additional insights.
  • Encourage employees to be organized and have them check their schedule before saying yes to new tasks and responsibilities.
  • Model authentic and honest dialogue and discourage bullying by calling it out as soon as you see it.
  • Ensure that managers don’t burnout their high performers to compensate for weaker team members.
  • Facilitate frequent team huddles so that everybody on the team knows ‘who’s doing what’ and the associated deadlines. Encourage team members to ask and offer help when needed.
  • As a leader, learn and dare to omit excellent ideas. They might have high potential, but timing and resources impact the success of any idea. Sometimes you are better off doing a few things very well.

Taking the time to address and implement these simple workplace management tips with your employees will increase productivity, team cohesiveness, trust and your bottom line. Take care of your people and they will take care of your business.


Julie Richer – Workplace Wellness Consultant/Coach

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