What's the biggest work distraction? The answer: basically, your family.
So much for blaming everything on text messaging and Facebook.
Asked about the biggest distraction at work, 22 percent said of respondents said "personal relationship issues," 19 percent said "coworkers who want to chat," 16 percent said "challenges with work relationships," 15 percent said "financial/legal problems," 11 percent said "child-related or caregiving issues," 6 percent said "personal health problems," and just 4 percent said "personal communications" (cell phones and social media), according to a recent survey released by ComPsych Corp., the world's provider of employee-assistance programs,
To find out more about how to keep your spouse or parent employed, Family Goes Strong talked with Roxanne Szczypkowski, director of work-life products and services at ComPsych. Excerpts:
Why are these "personal relationship issues" a big deal?
If personal relationships take precedence over work, it's a problem. You can't keep your mind focused and engaged.
What are the personal relationship issues that cause work distractions? Are they major problems, or are they spouses or teens calling about what's for dinner?
It can be a mix of both. It can be the big stuff - you're fighting with your spouse or children. Or it can be the everyday mundane things - you have a needy spouse or partner who wants your input all the time. [It could be] somebody is shopping and says, "Do you need me to pick up x, y, z at the store?"
So what's the solution?
We really need to have an organized disruption. Train your children, your spouse, to only call or text you during a certain time in the day - the lunch hour, for example, when you have that 30 minutes to an hour for yourself, and you can use it as you like. If they're continuously calling you during meetings, or texting you, that can impact your productivity during work. You can also train yourself to only check your personal email during certain times of the day. Set limits with family members and also with yourself.
Were you surprised by your survey results?
Not at all. Personal relationship issues have, since the beginning of time, taken precedence in the employee assistance program world.
So hold off on calling your loved one unless it's really important?
If there's a family emergency, certainly you want your loved ones to get in touch with you. But if it's an everyday, mundane thing, it can wait for a certain time.
You could lose your job if your family members keep calling you, right?
That could be the ultimate fallout.
Respondents also said co-workers sometimes got in the way by coming in for chats. How do you ask them to go without alienating them?
There's certainly a tactful way to allow your co-worker time to come in and visit with you. Set up some time to visit - maybe it's at lunch hour or during a break period. Explain to a co-worker that you're on deadline with a project. Just give them that gentle reminder that you don't have time for them right then, but you can speak with them later, so they don't feel forgotten about. [It's about] controlling when that person is entering your cubicle.
What's a sample script?
"Hey, Jen, good to see you. I would really love to speak with you. However, I'm on deadline. I have to have this report done by 11 a.m. Can I come to see you after I turn it in? Do you have any time to talk with me later in the day?"
Can you say the same thing but ask to chat the following day?
What if your co-worker is long-winded?
There are ways you can try to control the conversation. "OK. I have five minutes. Catch me up on what's going on in your life." Set a limit.
Respondents also mentioned financial and legal problems.
Most companies these days have employee assistance work-life programs. We would certainly recommend that they call their EAP work-life program and talk to a financial counselor or legal counselor.
But what if you worry about confidentiality?
It's completely confidential. And they can speak to an objective, unbiased third party who can help them alleviate some of those stressors.
What about worries about aging parents?
Call the work-life program. Work-life can find childcare and eldercare providers for you.
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