to a 2013 Gallup report, “just 30% of employees in America feel engaged at work.” Workers are drained, the arti- cle reports, because “Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity.” Engagement is defined as “involvement, commitment, pas- sion, enthusiasm, focused effort and energy.” CustomerServiceGroup.com clas- sifies employees as having three gen- eral characteristics as they pertain to engagement: 1.
employees go above and beyond, are incredibly loyal, and are content to stay at an organization for many years. 2.
employees are not inclined to go an extra mile, only do what’s required, and are at risk to leave the company. 3.
em- ployees have a negative attitude to- ward their employers and their job responsibilities. For a company, cultivating a highly focused, engaged employee base can mean more profits. Schwartz and Porath reference a 2012 Gallup inter- national poll that found “companies in the top quartile for engaged employ- ees, compared with the bottom quar- tile, had 22% higher profitability and 10% higher customer ratings.” De- loitte Consulting reported similar re- sults, pointing to a study showing that an organization with highly engaged employees had an average three-year revenue growth that was 2. 3 times greater than those with employees who showed average engagement. Being focused is not the same as being engaged, however. Schwartz and Porath offer a variety of accept- able definitions for the engagement term, including “involvement, com- mitment, enthusiasm,” etc. None- theless, being “focused” is a key com- ponent and, to some, the driving force behind engaged employees. They also point out that from a survey by con- sultants at Towers Watson & Com- pany, “Only 20% of respondents said they were able to focus on one task at a time at work, but those who could were 50% more engaged.” Addition- ally, “With higher focus, these employ- ees ended up getting more work done in less time.”
Focus on Focus
As noted above, the results from available studies indicate that highly focused and engaged employees are generally more productive and hap- pier in their jobs. While some employ- ees may be naturally skilled at effective “focusing,” those who are not can be trained to better manage their work habits and personal behavior to recognize common distractions that negatively inter- fere with their daily performance. Employee training to improve focus has proven to increase productivity and con- tentment, as well as strengthening a com- pany’s bottom line. Management’s recog- nition of such benefits appears to be wanting, however. A lack of awareness rather than neglect seems to be the likely reason. Focus is not an endless resource; it diminishes as the day’s hours are con- sumed. Therefore, employees and management who understand the de- clining returns of attention interfer- ence and depreciation—and are pre- pared and trained to adjust to them accordingly—can realize psychic, emotional, and financial rewards. ;
is an independent freelance writer and marketing consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE PRACTICE OF FOCUS
Losing focus applies to everyone: Executives, office workers, and sales reps ar
qually vulnerable. Acknowl- edging one’s susceptibility to losing focus and then prac- ticing ways to strengthen concentration and refocus- ing techniques should be applied at every level of an organization. The following hints can begin one’s first line of defense for focus recovery: • Do the most demanding tasks in the morning. • Break up large projects into prioritized, progressive steps. Set due dates for every step and focus on each, one at a time. • Don’t multitask; it is inefficient and is prone to making errors. • Reduce and prioritize to-do lists; address important or urgent items first, and do “busy work” last. • Reduce the stimuli that will interfere with focusing. • Turn off the phone or activate its “do not disturb” function. • Turn off email “alerts”; schedule specific times of the day to check email (not incessantly). • Practice daily “mindful meditation” for 20 minutes. • Establish a “do not disturb safe zone” and advise colleagues and/or family to respect it. • Establish a “no devices” policy during meetings. • Chew gum (it increases oxygen flow to the brain). • Take a break every 45 to 90 minutes. • Maintain an organized workspace; a cluttered envi- ronment wastes time during searches for docu- ments and/or files.
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