Employees can easily become distracted by small talk and the latest raging debates about current events. While you want to encourage comradarie among your workers and that requires some purely social interaction, you don't want it to get to the point that it affects productivity. You can use a few simple methods to reduce the superfluous conversations at work while still maintaining a happy and healthy atmosphere.
Reduce Electronic Distractions
Visual reminders of current affairs can cause employees to focus on them more than they otherwise would. Remove televisions from the break room to avoid casual distractions and the small talk they create. Additionally, establish and clearly communicate reasonable policies that provide guidance on acceptable levels of surfing the Internet and using smartphones during working hours.
Limit Social Media In the Workplace
We all know that scrolling through pages of social media posts force-feeds people news about events all over the world from friends and family. If using social media is not a significant part of someone's direct responsibilities, that employee should be given clear guidelines regarding use of social media while in the office. This will reduce the resulting small talk that causes workplace distractions. If necessary, your company can install software to prevent employees from accessing social media sites at their desk, but carefully consider the impact on morale before resorting to such draconian steps.
Avoid Controversial Topics
Some employees are moved to join a discussion when they hear controversial topics being discussed, and those who disagree can engage in heated debates over sensitive topics. Tell employees and managers to avoid hot-button topics at work to reduce endless small talk and distracting arguments. Tell employees to refrain from political conversations while at work to maintain a professional environment. Ask employees to remove any flags, decorations or posters that reflect political affiliations or ideas from their workspace one to avoid sparking discussions about current political events.
Correct the Offenders
To discourage employees from bringing up current events in the workplace, you must enforce your policies. Tell employees that they will be reprimanded for speaking on subjects unrelated to work. Make sure that every employee understands the rules of verbal conduct in the workplace to reduce the chatter. Take overly talkative employees aside and request that they reduce their informal chatting, and the rest of the office will often follow suit.
Encourage Productive Conversations
Too many employees engage in small talk simply because they have free time at work, but you can fix this problem. Get employees talking about work related matters, office objectives and other relevant industry information by assigning them to engaging projects. Encourage them to collaborate on project work. Keep employees challenged and focused by setting higher performance goals and employees won’t have time for small talk.
Studies reveal that chatty employees are responsible for nearly half of all workplace distractions, but you can reduce their impact dramatically. Limit small talk at work about current events by removing distractions, regulating employee conduct and encouraging conversations about work-related subjects.
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