Overhauling an Organization's Interruption Culture
Implications and Suggested Remedies to Minimize This Epidemic
By Sapna Mehta Mangal Associate Professor, School of Hospitality Management, Kendall College at National Louis University | March 27, 2016
The interruption cultural norm makes its way to the workplace and causes a string of adverse issues. It can have a mammoth consequence on the hospitality industry where the human element is status quo and interruptions unavoidable. With the ubiquitous presence of technology, non-job related interruptions have been rampant. On the job task interruptions from within, like wavering of a thought or a preoccupied mind cannot be dismissed either. Bottom line – if one is allowing the undesirable interruption culture to seep through the organization there is an undesirable impact to one's profits. So why permit such ethos to churn within the enterprise?
Implications to Organizations
According to a 2005 Basex research report, the US economy is inundated with hefty workplace disruption costs of $588 billion per annum. The same report indicated that an average employee spends 28% of the work time dealing with unnecessary interruptions. We are looking at approximately 2 hours per 8 hour workday where employees are not only interrupted but need to deal with the recovery time to refocus on the task at hand. Not to undermine the fact that the IQ dips 10 points when an individual deals with numerous personal emails, text messages, social media notifications and phone calls during the workday. Management often shies away when it comes to employee interruptions and continue to tolerate their pervasive presence because the costs associated with this insidious behavior cannot be directly measured. Moreover, there is no formalized way to curtail the interruptions except through well guided frontline process improvement programs.
Implications of Interruptions on Guest Service Employees
Empirical studies have underscored that non-job related interruptions have a direct impact on productivity, performance, job satisfaction which in turn fails to strike the work and life balance. Often endured, interruptions can substantially impact the frontline personnel that constantly deal with unrelated distractions during their work shift. The one sector in the service industry that is taking notice of this widespread dilemma are the hospitals, in particular, the hospital nurse stations that are swamped with interferences. Interruptions can also be ruthless on employee morale, a cost that is often dismissed or overlooked. It is said that employees facing adverse feelings and behavior as a result of interruptions are sometimes more detrimental than actual work related tasks. The distraction itself deviates employees from the main task on hand; henceforth a dent in the thinking process can be wasted time on the job.
We often forget about the refocusing, and recollection that goes into one's thoughts that slows momentum. This dissipates the energy, the enthusiasm and can be counterproductive. To top it all, feelings of stress, anguish, and worry, can be so overwhelming to an individual that the goals for the day may go unaccomplished. So even that polite question often heard from an interrupter like, "Got just a moment?" is that, one not only gives up just that moment but also sacrifices one's energy, enthusiasm, and any job satisfaction that could possibly be attained. Long hours to play catch up may mean more costs to the organization.
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