I have difficulty at my workplace; like so many others, they attempt to harness 100% of their worker’s attention 100% of the time for 8.5 hours a day. In theory, any – and I mean any amount of attention spent on “non-work tasks” is wasted efficiency.
Being in one of these situations has forced me to realize that this is simply pandering to the lowest common denominator.
What is the goal of the corporation vis a vis the worker? (Sorry, I so rarely get to use “vis a vis”.) To get maximum output, or efficiency. Sure, those workers whose efficiencies are sub-par need correction. They’re the lowest common denominator.
But consider your average and above-par workers (surely you have a few of those around). Subjecting them to the rigors needed for your unmotivated workers will have an opposite effect than the one desired – it will unmotivate them. Humans cannot completely divorce their work life from thier home life. Kids, bills, parents, pets – there are a million other worries and distractions in our lives.
Those distractions will – repeat, will – affect our productivity. It doesn’t matter if management allows us time to deal with the problems. That problem will simply be there occupying our brainspace, along with a good deal of frustration that we can’t do anything about it. Remember: Multitasking is a myth. Therefore, forcing employees to ignore thier personal lives lowers productivity and efficiency.
Once we take that as a given, this alters the decision making process considerably. There is a certain degree of employee inattention that is simply a cost of doing business. A manager’s job, then, is to reduce the impact of that cost of doing business as much as possible.
Therefore, allowing employees to deal with thier problems can help them focus more effectively. When they’ve made the phone call, finished thier homework, or whatever, the company not only has thier full attention but thier gratitude as well.
What was originally a demoralizing, intractable problem has now been transformed into a positive quality of life issue – and potentially a productivity boost – with no net cost to your business.