A rapid employee turnover, a general lack of motivation amongst coworkers and a micromanaging boss who loves to play the ‘blame game’ – does that sound like a workplace you’d recommend to your peers? In today’s competitive global market, companies can’t afford to disregard the effects of positive workplace culture on employee morale and productivity.
It’s all good and well to spend a lot of time fine-tuning the experience your customers have when engaging with your brand, but you should never disregard the steep cost of disengaged and unmotivated workers. A negative company culture almost certainly results in a loss of productivity: Actively disengaged employees cost $483 billion to $605 billion each year in lost productivity.
We’re arguing that positive company culture can create ‘indistractible’ teams and that a lack of involvement and motivation is usually a cultural problem. As such, we will be taking a close look at team morale strategies that increase happiness at work by establishing trust and transparency and promoting a healthy work-life balance.
What makes employees engaged or disengaged?
For many people, work is a central part of their daily lives. If they don’t feel enthusiastic about their tasks or committed to their team and workplace, it can have wide-ranging consequences – not only for the individual but the entire organisation. And it’s not an uncommon issue: According to a recent study, only 33 per cent of workers are engaged in their jobs. Worse even, 79 per cent of employees do not at all feel valued at work.
Why does it matter?
Said study defines engaged and motivated workers as those who are involved in and enthusiastic about their work. Those who are not engaged or worse, actively disengaged, aren’t just unhappy: They’re psychologically detached from their work and resentful that their needs aren’t being met. They’re also more likely to become distracted at work, focusing on anything but the task at hand.
We Live in a Culture of Chronic Distraction
The way we use technology in the workplace is one of the factors that can make the difference between a positive and negative office culture. It’s not uncommon for employees to be using multiple screens at once, whilst juggling a multitude of tasks under the pressure of dangerously fast-approaching deadlines. Digital overload is no longer the stuff sci-fi novels are made of, but the defining problem of today’s workplace.
We’re constantly bombarded with messages, notifications and alerts. Even when we want to focus, it can be nearly impossible. Here’s why: Digital overload leads our nervous system to remain in a constant state of fight-or-flight, even when the distracting screens and devices are finally turned off. The results are devastating and include reduced productivity and engagement, both in the office and at home.
Our attention is divided and it’s causing stress levels to soar
The culture of constant connection and chronic distraction takes a toll both professionally and personally. A study by The University of California revealed that frequent email checkers are less focused and productive.
- Workers typically tend to a task for about three minutes before switching to something else.
- Many people check their smartphones every 15 minutes or less.
Our chronic distraction and the need to stay connected at all times have serious health implications: The heart rate of a frequent email checker is constantly higher than it should be. Which is little surprise considering that they are in high alert mode all around-the-clock. Said study also found that employees cut off from work emails experienced a significant stress reduction.
The link between bad workplace culture, distraction and disengagement
Technology is the reason behind a lot of distraction in the workplace, most likely due to the cultural environment people are functioning in. The fear of missing out and the fear of being without a mobile device, known as nomophobia, are common forms of anxiety. This anxiety thrives in work environments where team members are juggling too many responsibilities or where managers have unrealistic expectations.
Employees are constantly worried about responding too slowly to an email or Slack message and receiving information after everyone else. So instead of focussing on the task in front of them, they keep refreshing their emails and news feeds to make sure they’re not missing out.
A study found that multi-taskers squander up to 40 per cent of their productivity. And if you think that’s a problem only individual workers struggle with, think again: People sitting near a multi-tasker experience a 17 per cent decrease in comprehension. But technology is not the only thing that can be distracting.
Strategies to Limit Distractions and Engage Workers
When you prioritise your employees’ wellbeing, it won’t go unnoticed by the team. Allowing people to switch off after work and making sure they’re not working in their personal time is part of the puzzle. The result is a much lower employee turnover, which, long term, is also much less costly for the business. So what changes can you make to minimise distractions and improve employee morale without micromanaging them?
Here is our take on helping employees focus and allowing them to be as productive as possible!
1. Create a Flexible Work Environment
Boost productivity by offering flexible work arrangements
People who are happy with their work environment are also the most engaged in their job. Create a workspace with a balance of open spaces that encourage collaboration and private offices that allow employees to work in absolute silence, so team members can choose to limit distractions when needed.
Let employees choose where they work
Eighty-eight per cent of employees are the happiest, when they can choose to work anywhere they want within the office. Not everyone wants to be at their desks eight hours a day. Some employees like to switch to a standing desk now and then or want to work from home one or two days per week. What works for some, might not work for others. It’s important to allow people to find a solution that suits their preferences and helps them be as productive as they can be.
2. Encourage a Healthy Work-Life Balance
You should care about your employees’ mental health and personal time just as much as their work outputs. Happiness in the workplace has a lot to do with what people are doing in their time off – and of course, with having time off in the first place. Employees shouldn’t be working well into the after-hours, during lunch breaks or on weekends. This will promote more enthusiasm about their job and most likely create more dedicated, hard-working employees.
Allow for flexible schedules
The typical nine-to-five workday no longer meets the needs of the modern employee. Effectiveness isn’t measured based on the time people spent in their office chairs. When you’re trying to get employees to focus, you need to allow them to work on their own schedule.
For some, that might result in a 7 am start so they can spend more time with their kids or go to that lunch-time yoga class. For others, the alarm clock doesn’t ring until 9 am, but they don’t mind working late.
Incentivise Wellness and Recreation
Whilst the work itself needs to be fulfilling, a few extra perks don’t hurt. Little shows how much your company cares about its employees, like health and wellness programs, free office lunches and sponsored fitness challenges. And yes, that includes the occasional employee fun day where employees can interact in a non-working environment outside the office.
Not only do they increase engagement and improve overall health and happiness, they also promote positive relationships amongst co-workers. And we all know that having friends at the office makes getting out of bed in the morning a lot easier.
3. Multitasking is the Enemy
You now know that emails can be one of the biggest distractions in the workplace, especially if you are diligent when it comes to replying. A backlog of emails can take a lot of time to filter through and read. The majority of the email platforms offer options to filter your inbox or make email management more productive in other ways.
Offer guidance on dealing with emails and instant messaging
In many companies, employees are urged to respond ASAP to Slack messages or emails, which ultimately is a safe way to distract and slow down employees. It can prove helpful to openly discuss these issues with your team and to provide a written set of policies with detailed suggestions on how to deal with emails, alerts and notifications. This could include the company-wide rule of no work emails between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. or on weekends.
4. A Top to Bottom Approach: Leading by Example
Culture starts at the top of the company. If you want to create an environment your employees can thrive in, you need to be the workplace culture role model. Transparency and trust in the leadership team are the main gateways to engaging teams. The one way to do this is to keep your doors open and sparking conversations with your team. Your employees shouldn’t hesitate to address issues, difficulties and challenges with you either. In combination with the above-mentioned strategies, you can encourage effective work and improve the quality and outcomes of the team as a whole.
The ball is in your court. Ask yourself: How engaged, productive and happy is your team?
Do you have comments or suggestions on improving employee morale and productivity? Feel free to reach out to us – we’d love to hear from you!