One of the biggest struggles for businesses is employee productivity. There have been many different approaches to maximize productivity throughout history. Several schools of thought exist on what methods are best for increased productivity levels. The fact is, though, that no one method can fit all employees. People are motivated by different things, and so various methods would need to be taken with each employee.
Unfortunately, this is extremely difficult to do. On top of the difficulties that have always existed when it comes to boosting employee productivity, there are now also many additional obstacles to employee productivity that weren’t around before. The biggest distraction to employees is no longer other employees but cell phones.
Smartphones give employees access to a wide variety of distractions all day long. Unfortunately, with the way that businesses have evolved, simply requiring employees to stay off of their phones is often not an option. Cell phone usage has become an integrated part of many jobs.
The Rise of the Internet
When the internet first came to prominence, and people who used a computer at work had access, there was a big problem with internet usage by employees affecting productivity. Fortunately, the problem was limited to the small section of the workforce at the time that used internet-connected computers.
The small size of this effect rapidly grew, however, as more and more people began using internet-connected computers at work. Employers were forced to put blocks on a wide variety of sites to try to keep their employees focused on the task at hand.
Then when cell phone usage grew, optimizing employee productivity became even more difficult to keep workers focused. Once the majority of people had smartphones, it became almost impossible to eliminate the harmful element from the workplace. The more advanced technology has become, the more distractions have grown.
There was once a time where the only way in which employees might be following along with a sporting event at work was a radio broadcast. Generally, it was no more distracting than listening to music. However, times have changed. Now people have access to a vast array of sports options while on the clock.
The ability to stream live sports on the device that your employees carry around in their pockets is only a small part of the problem. CNN started the 24-hour news cycle, and while it took sporting news a little while to follow along, sports reporting has now hit its stride.
Sports reporters are constantly updating the status of players and teams. Fans are always wondering about the latest news and end up checking the sports widget on their favorite website to see the latest news and stats.
The growth in sports statistics over the past couple of decades has also been a contributing factor to the distraction level of sports. Many people have become amateur sports statisticians.
Fantasy sports have also become a huge part of this problem. People are constantly responding to the news and the stats to tweak their roster and optimize their team for the best chance at victory. There are so many sporting websites and podcasts devoted solely to fantasy sports.
Many people care more highly for their fantasy teams these days than they do for their hometown team.
Focus on Production
Unfortunately, there are no easy solutions to the problem posed by sports distractions. However, many employers do have the flexibility to change the focus of what they are looking for from their employees. With the rise in work from home jobs, spurred on by the pandemic and made possible by the same technologies that have helped lead to so many distractions, work schedules don’t have to be so strict.
Employers don’t have to worry about the production that employees put in during a nine to five workday. Instead, they can allow employees to work on their own schedule, and rather than requiring a certain number of hours from employees, employers can require a reasonable workload to be met.
That way, employees can work at times when they will be a lot more productive. They can put work aside if they want to watch a game. They can give themselves as much time as they want in the morning to get all caught up on the latest sporting news rather than trying to sneak peeks at their phone when their boss isn’t looking. The need to hide non-productive activity greatly increases the time wasted.
Most employees can accomplish all of the things that they did in a 40-hour workweek under strict conditions, in 30 hours if they are allowed to work their own schedule. So much of the old standard workweek was wasted time. Moving towards a focus on production rather than a focus on hours on the clock is a great way to ensure your employees are able to meet their weekly goals despite the many distractions out there.