Has your company’s productivity taken a dive this election season? A recent survey by Gartner found 60% of employees were feeling distracted by the 2020 U.S. presidential election. As the election news continues to draw out, it seems like our national reduced attention span isn’t going to get better any time soon.
Getting employees back on track and focused on work, rather than the news cycle, isn’t just good for productivity. It’s good for mental health, as well. What can you do to help your teams look away from the headlines, drop the political chit-chat, and get refocused on their workplace goals?
Leaders as moderators
It’s up to management to create a safe workspace where employees can be honest about what’s on their minds. By the same token, it’s up to management to keep everyone’s head in the game, even when some employees don’t feel able to move on from their personal stress and anxiety. Managers need to moderate conversation, helping employees understand they can express their feelings, but that they can’t dominate the day’s work.
Maybe that’s allowing the morning Zoom call or meeting to begin with a quick run-down of current events, before turning the conversation firmly towards work-related subjects.
A little change can go a long way to helping get the mind back on work. If your employees are working from home, encourage them to take a look at their designated working space and find some ways to make it feel more professional and permanent. Working off the coffee table indefinitely won’t help anyone shift from phone-scrolling mode to productive team member mode. Some companies are offering budgets for home office improvements.
If your employees are in the office, maybe it’s time to add some new artwork, office plants, or even adjust workspaces to better take advantage of light or views.
Encourage off-the-clock wellness
What benefit offerings can your employees use to take control of their mental health? Whether it’s meditation, mindfulness, wellness training, or physical exercise, a bevy of apps and online training programs have sprung up or expanded in the face of an extremely stressful year. Anything which offers a path towards new, healthy habits can be encouraged as an alternative to fixating on the news cycle — from cooking classes to virtual yoga classes.
Make sure your employees are aware of all these opportunities with frequent reminders in virtual meetings, email newsletters, bulletin boards, and anywhere else you can get the word out. If you offer discounts with outside vendors, are their links easily accessible from your employee-facing website?
At the end of the day, encouraging productivity over the distractions of news comes down to improving the mental health and resilience of your employees. Encouraging pleasant workspaces, allowing for safe escape valves for pent-up feelings at work, and developing healthy coping mechanisms can allow stressed, distracted employees to get back to what they’re really passionate about — and their productivity will follow.
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