More than a third of millennials use their phones for personal activities up to two hours during the workday, and they blame technology and lack of training for lower morale and productivity in the workplace, according to a new report from Udemy.
The report, “Udemy In Depth: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report,” measures how distracted employees are during work hours, how they’re responding to distractions, and the price of distraction for employers and the American economy at large. The research found a strong correlation between increased levels of distraction, decreased productivity, and a lack of proper training at work.
Though 69% of full-time employees surveyed report being distracted at work and 70% agree that training could help them learn to focus and manage their time better, 66% have never brought this up to their managers. Younger workers, in particular, are also having trouble balancing work and personal activities on devices they use for both; 78% of millennials/Gen Z say using technology for personal activity is more distracting than work-related tools like email and chat.
Soft skills training on topics ranging from productivity hacks to time management, combined with training on how to use communication tools efficiently, can help employees stay focused and engaged.
- 42% say feeling empowered to learn new skills would make them more engaged
- 40% think that flexible/remote work options can reduce workplace distraction
- 52% say they are more productive when working remotely
“It’s shocking that 54% of employees attribute their underperformance to workplace distractions, but it’s also clear that companies have the power to change that statistic by investing in training. By embracing a learning culture and prioritizing training and development, businesses can help develop employees that keep up with nonstop technology and are competitive, competent, and engaged,” says Darren Shimkus, general manager for Udemy for Business.
The top sources of employee distraction include: chatty coworkers (80%), office noise (70%), feeling overwhelmed by changes at work (61%), and social media (56%). Meetings, too, were cited as a source of distraction by 60%, and meetings themselves are then disrupted by distractions like small talk and office gossip.
Most survey respondents (58%) said they don’t need social media to do their jobs, but they still can’t make it through the day without it. When asked to rank various social media sites and communication tools by degree of distraction, Facebook came in first (65%), followed distantly by Instagram (9%), Snapchat (7%), and Twitter (7%).
In addition to recognizing how workplace distraction can hurt productivity and diminish quality of work, companies need to be aware of the very real damage to employee morale and retention. Among millennials and Gen Z, 22% feel distractions prevent them from reaching their full potential and advancing in their careers, and overall, 34% say they like their jobs less as a result.
The online survey for the U.S. was conducted by Toluna Group on behalf of Udemy in February 2018 among more than 1,000 U.S. office workers in full-time jobs who are ages 18 or older.