A crisis—whether a health crisis or an existential one, or both—can be a great learning opportunity. However, it can be difficult to see beyond our current circumstances (flattening the curve, social distancing, no traveling, etc.) and help keep employees focused on today’s to-do lists, let alone goals for the future.
This past year brought about many changes, but it also created job, financial, and health insecurity. Uncertainty is one of the biggest causes of lack of focus. Harvard Business Review writes that “[w]hether it’s political turmoil or a reorganization at your company, employees who are concerned about their future are likely to be distracted and unproductive”. This can lead employees to feel unfocused and a “symptom of distraction is more distraction”.
Continue reading for some ways that you can help employees keep focused, both professionally and personally.
So, how do you as an organization provide a sense of meaning to your employees? It’s true that work isn’t everything and won’t be the only ‘work’ your people do to bring meaning to their lives, but your company culture should really come into play here.
Without a sense of direction, employees may be feeling aimless. Giving them a sense of belonging and purpose can help your team to feel focused.
As Harvard Business Review writes in an article on finding direction when you’re feeling lost: “To thrive, people need a direction and goals to look forward to; people who lack a clear sense of purpose find little meaning in whatever they’re doing”.
So, how do you as an organization provide a sense of meaning to your employees? It’s true that work isn’t everything and won’t be the only “work” your people do to bring meaning to their lives, but your company culture should really come into play here.
Creating a company culture that emphasizes community and shared goals is essential to instilling a sense of belonging. A clear vision, that is aligned across each department, will help employees keep focused on the future and their role in getting there.
Uncertainty is one of the biggest causes of lack of focus.
Creating a loyal and dedicated workforce means instilling a sense of confidence. Employees who have opportunities to learn and grow are going to feel more productive and focused in their work. High levels of confidence can make employees feel like they're “in the zone” more often.
This means encouraging employees to take advantage of online seminars, courses, and conferences, as well as providing opportunities for learning and development that are integrated into their work.
There are many factors to consider when trying to help employees keep focused
Here are a few suggestions:
- Ensure that your workspace (whether in the office or at home) has limited distractions. Comfort and quiet are key.
- If music helps you concentrate, listen to a playlist. Music has been found to help “boost concentration and memory as well as increase alertness”. Try instrumental covers, such as this Spotify playlist.
- Alternatively, if you need silence to concentrate, try noise cancelling headphones. You can wear them with nothing playing and they will drown out the majority of sound, but you can also play white noise to completely drown out surrounding noise.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a carefully planned to-do list and schedule. Breaking up your day into more manageable segments can make completing tasks much easier, not to mention you get the satisfaction of being able to cross items off a list.
- Take lots of breaks. A common productivity method is the pomodoro technique—if you’ve read our blog before, you’ve probably seen us mention it—where you work in small 25-minute intervals and take short breaks between each “pomodoro”.
- Be intentional about disconnecting from the news, social media, and your phone when you have demanding tasks to complete. These can all hinder your focus and make it even more difficult to concentrate.