Search for content, post, videos

The Attention Deficit in the Workplace

The Answer Starts With You!

You are a role model to someone. The expression “tone at the top” is true. The example leaders demonstrate is often believed to be a requirement employees must follow. No matter what is written in policy handbooks or said aloud, the traits leaders demonstrate, others will implement as their own. Even though most leaders recognize this to be true, it is easy to forget how daily behavior is observed and actions are emulated.

According to the Information Overload Group, distractions cost US businesses $588 billion dollars in productivity each year. This makes me question how many of these distractions are derived from your leadership “tone” and daily work behavior.

When we use the word ‘leader’ we are referring to everyone, it doesn’t matter your title, responsibilities or what’s printed on your business card, everyone leads.

Let’s determine the answer with a pop-quiz:

1. E-mail

  • Do you expect immediate responses to emails sent?
  • Do you pop into an employee’s office, send a text or call them within 30 minutes without an answer?

2. Phone Call

  • Do you always take phone calls regardless of what you are working on or who is in your office?

3. Devices

  • Are you always seen carrying your cell phone?
  • Have you interrupted meetings or allowed yourself to be distracted in order to respond to messages or alerts?
  • Does your phone stay on and active throughout each work day?

4. After Hours

  • Do you usually send or respond to emails or texts after work?
  • Are you willing to interrupt your family time to take incoming work-related phone calls?

5. Open Door Policy

  • Are you known for walking into an employee’s workspace unscheduled to discuss a project, question or need?

6. Schedule

  • Do you allow for an open schedule of time that anyone can take to meet their needs?
  • Are you intentional about blocking off time throughout the day to work without interruption?

7. Meetings

  • Do you accept every meeting invitation?
  • Do you require an agenda before attending or does the invitation merely imply your required attendance?

8. Priorities

  • As other departments or peers make demands on your time or request nonpriority essential tasks, do you take on their requests without scrutiny?

9. Unannounced Visits

  • Are you known for walking into an employee’s workspace unscheduled to discuss a project, question or need?

10. Social Media

  • Do you pop on social media to respond to posts and comments throughout the day?
  • Do you use the internet frequently to share and communicate with others?

If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions (and I admit, I definitely did!), you are sending a message to your employees that the same is expected of them. If you are unable to allow yourself time to focus without interruption or if you are not proactively seeking ways to avoid disruption, others will fail to do so as well.

As the leader, you are the Attention Ambassador of your office. Lead by example. When you silence your phone, others will too. If you refrain from sending or responding to after-hours messages, others will feel permitted to do the same.

It is up to YOU as the leader to prioritize your time and demonstrate that your team can feel empowered to do the same. As a result, employee productivity will soar, engagement will skyrocket and so will the profits that follow suit. When employees feel free to say “no” to other’s request for their time and attention, they can say “yes” to what matters most.

Choose to lead by example. Be the role model. Be a true leader. Be aware of the example you set. Change the expectations and remember – Attention pays off.

To manage the Attention Deficit in the Workplace, we need to identify the enemy of our employee attention. There is a battle brewing in your office over your employees’ attention.

The enemy is the distraction.




Our workplaces are a littered land mind of distractions. It is a wonder how anyone manages to survive. Between open concept offices to technological interruptions, employees fight for their ability to pay attention, avoid distractions and say ‘no’ to demands for their attention. They feel overwhelmed, overstressed and overtired; spending countless energy being busy (we know that busy does not necessarily mean productive).

The stress distractions created in the workplace have long-term consequences to the individual’s productivity and health as well as the company’s bottom line. So how do you wage a war against your workplace distraction?

Consider the following aspects and determine where distractions can be destroyed – once and for all.

Employee Engagement: Leaders, take the time to get to know your employees by paying attention to their priorities – personally and professionally. Focusing on their needs and long-term goals will encourage them to do the same for you and your organization. By investing in their priorities, they will reciprocate.

Identify Motivating Factors: Learn what makes your team tick. Do individuals on the team appreciate being recognized in front of peers, or do they prefer quiet thanks? Once you learn their preferred style of receiving accolades, make sure to frequently recognize their accomplishments, big and small. Reward your team based on their individual motivating factors and you will see the employee engagement skyrocket.

Office Structure: If you’re seeking to give employees the benefit of a distraction-free workspace, allowing them to think clearly and uninterrupted, consider touring your office and identifying potential challenges to their focus. Are coworkers too loud? Do employees have a place to go for a noise-free zone? Is the atmosphere conducive to clear and concentrated focus. Leaders can help their team drive productivity by identifying these challenges and working to improve them moving forward.

Technology-Free Time: If you want to boost productivity and profits, encourage employees to schedule times of day that are technology free. Allow them to send calls to voicemail, turn off emails, and work on tasks that require more concentrated focus. Leaders can set the tone for this type of work by blocking off times per day on the calendar to work distraction free.

Prioritize: Employees will achieve company goals and organizational priorities with great success when leadership keeps them clear and concise while reviewing them regularly with employees. By reiterating goals, leaders empower employees to say ‘no’ to requests for their time that conflict with objectives set forth by leadership. This ensures time is well spent by being dedicated on accomplishing what matters most.

Promote Breaks: Productivity increases when people take frequent, short breaks throughout the day. Encourage employees to get away from their desks throughout the day. Discourage them from eating at their desks and promote taking time off for vacation, rest and recovery. Their increased rest will create increased focus.

Maximize the Best Time of Day: Everyone has a time of day they focus and concentrate best. If you want employees to achieve higher daily productivity, encourage them to work on their most challenging tasks during the time of day they work best.


Explore more articles related to leadership.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *