Employees name 4 biggest workplace distractions: Here’s how to help them

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It’s not surprising that a recent survey found 69% of full-time employees get distracted at work. The more interesting finding is that 70% of workers think their managers could help them focus better through training. 

Udemy conducted a survey of 1,000 full-time office workers in the U.S. to find what was causing the distractions, how employees cope with them and what employers can do to help workers regain their focus.

Biggest distractions

Fifty-four percent of employees believe they are underperforming due to workplace distractions. Here’s what topped the list:

  • Talkative co-workers (80%)
  • Office noise (70%)
  • Meetings (60%), and
  • Social media (56%).

The majority of workers who said social media was the biggest distraction admitted that its use wasn’t work-related, but they couldn’t get through the day without checking personal accounts. One-third of millennial employees are on their phones for up to two hours during the workday.

A lot of workers are aware these distractions affect their productivity and try to combat them on their own.

Forty-three percent of employees shut their cell phones off during work. Thirty percent listen to music to block out conversations and other noises. And when workers know they’re distracted and won’t be able to focus, 26% use that time to complete simpler tasks.

What employees need to focus

Distractions not only impact productivity, but also have a long-term impact on careers.

Twenty-two percent of workers think distractions can prevent them from reaching their full potential and advancing in their careers, while 34% said distractions simply make them like their job less.

Employees had some ideas of what would make them more inclined to focus at work:

  • Trying new things (54%)
  • Being encouraged to learn new skills (42%)
  • Knowing the path for professional advancement (35%), and
  • Participating in workplace trainings (22%).

The survey also found some more tangible things employers can do to cut down on distractions. Here are the top suggestions:

  • Allow flexible schedules/telecommuting (40%)
  • Have designated spaces for quiet work and teamwork (38%)
  • Provide time management training (37%)
  • Define office norms for noise levels, conversations, etc. (31%), and
  • Have regular “no meetings” days.

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