Productivity Killers





By the Numbers





Environmental issues In a recent poll from Lee Hecht Harrison the number one issue keeping employees from being more productive is talkative coworkers. An overwhelming 45% of those surveyed identified talkative coworkers as the most disruptive or distracting thing at work. This is more than double the second most disruptive, distracting thing.


Workplace conversations include direct discussions between two or more employees. They seem harmless enough but their impact goes beyond the two involved as they are also a distraction to all employees within earshot. With most offices being designed to encourage employees to learn from one another it is very difficult to get away from all conversations in the workplace. In fact, in some working environments employees find conversation to be extremely useful in their growth as an individual. It is in this overhearing how a coworker has resolved a problem that the eavesdropper can learn how to handle a similar situation should they ever have to.


If we acknowledge some workplace conversation is beneficial for employee growth and we know that conversation in general is disruptive it is imperative to limit nonessential conversation. Just as smokers are allowed to step away for cigarette, employees discussing lengthy or complex issues need to step away from the work area, even if the conversation would be beneficial to others.


The balance of the survey of 848 US workers was:

  1. Emails 18% Odors 9%
  2. Telephone calls 8%
  3. Ambient noise 6%
  4. Office design 5%
  5. Nothing at all 5%

Distractions According to research by Career Builder of Chicago the top 10 impediments to productivity are:

  1. Cell phones/texting
  2. The internet
  3. Gossip
  4. Social media
  5. Email
  6. Co-workers dropping by
  7. Meetings
  8. Smoke breaks/snack breaks
  9. Noisy co-workers
  10. Sitting in a cubicle