It could be you! Here's how to help employees stick to their tasks. / By: Jason Keown, Senior Director of Marketing and eCommerce, Grand & Toy
he workplace: it's where Canadians spend most of their time Monday to Friday (and the occasional weekend, too). While it's a place where engagement and productivity should be soaring, the reality is that it can be difficult to focus and perform.
72 per cent of working Canadians say they have at least one distraction at work.
In a recent poll at Grand & Toy, we surveyed 1,000 employees of small- to medium-size businesses to understand the factors behind productivity (or lack thereof) in Canadian workplaces. We found that nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of working Canadians say they have at least one distraction at work. The distractions vary, but the leading complaints are co-workers, with nearly four in 10 (37 per cent) respondents saying colleagues are the leading cause of distractions. Loud talkers, strong scents, heavy-handed typers and co-workers playing music were all examples of productivity blockers. Other factors are self-imposed, such as surfing the internet, procrastinating and texting friends.
For many, the occasional distraction during the work day can provide a much-needed break. A pleasant conversation can lift an employee's spirits and make it easier to work through the rest of the day's tasks. More and more, productivity experts are acknowledging the benefits of small breaks from work. However, when the breaks are unplanned and unwanted, productivity can suffer.
A University of California - Irvine study found that it takes an average of 25 minutes for a person to return to the task they were working on before they were distracted. If interruptions occur two to three times a day, that can take away valuable time for the completion of daily tasks.
The results of our survey showcase that almost six in 10 (57 per cent) Canadian SMB employees didn't manage to complete all their work the previous day. While not surprising, it is concerning, as businesses must increasingly operate on tight timelines. It's normal for some work to remain undone, but no business can operate efficiently when more employees are failing to complete their daily tasks than are completing them.
almost six in 10 (57%) Canadian SMB employees didn't manage to complete all their work the previous day.
On the other side of the coin, more than half (56 per cent) of working Canadians said external productivity blockers interfere when trying to complete tasks at the office. Cited examples included a holiday season, uncomfortable temperatures, patio and cottage season, and sports.
After coworkers, the most commonly cited challenges are technology related (e.g., breakdowns, slow internet). Investing in substandard tech may save some money upfront, but if it prevents workers from doing their job, in the long run it cuts into revenue. When we recently moved our team to a new office, we provided a space that fosters productivity with state-of-the-art technology in conference rooms for meetings and/or brainstorming, and quiet workspaces to provide employees with a comfortable, home-like environment.
the most commonly cited challenges are technology related (e.g., breakdowns, slow internet).
So how can small- and medium-size businesses keep productivity high?
Giving employees the right tools and technology can help them complete tasks efficiently, which helps minimize how often they get distracted. More flexible policies in the workplace, such as a music-friendly environment (with headphones) may help employees drown out co-workers and stimulate creativity.
Flexibility can also include non-traditional work hours or telecommuting, so that employees are able to do their best work, through their own style of working. It is especially important for small- and medium-size businesses to engage their employees and create a productive environment to ensure that everything runs smoothly and contributes to the success of the company.