How People Work Often Undermines Effective Staffing

ThinkstockPhotos-452415791Ask employees and they’ll often tell you that multitasking is a requirement of their jobs. Some even say that company leadership endorses and promotes multitasking as a desirable work habit.

Research has demonstrated the inefficiency of multitasking. Gorillas drive home the point.

Okay, not real gorillas. Just the one in the suit featured by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons in their book, The Invisible Gorilla. The authors explain inattentional blindness — why people don’t notice the unexpected.

In a series of examples (including the story of a research video with a fake gorilla), Chabris and Simons share why we miss important information. These perceptual blindspots happen for all types of people, including staffing and recruiting professionals.

Inattentional blindness is one of the reasons why details are overlooked in interviews and client meetings. Add to this the added distractions of multitasking, and it’s no surprise that quality suffers.

By promoting multitasking as a desirable work trait, companies have infected their cultures with the workplace equivalent of ADHD — Corporate ADD (Attention Divided Dilemma). Inattentional blindness and Corporate ADD are a volatile combination, compromising people’s ability to do work that is accurate and effective.

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There is no medication for this version of ADD, nor is one required. Leaders simply need to promote a healthier culture of work, including:

  1. Single-tasking, a dedicated focus to the task at hand.
  2. Maintaining boundaries to minimize distractions.
  3. Avoiding being the distraction, as many leaders can be when they constantly interrupt the flow of work.
  4. Promoting a work process that is fast and efficient.

Anything that truly matters deserves undivided attention. That’s why the staffing industry needs strong leadership—to counter ineffective methods and overcome human fallibility.

If you’d like to read more on the research I mentioned above, here’s the study: “Executive Control of Cognitive Processes in Task Switching,” by Joshua S. Rubinstein, David E. Meyer, and Jeffrey E. Evans, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance.

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Scott Wintrip

Scott Wintrip
Scott Wintrip is the president of the Wintrip Consulting Group. He was named to the Staffing 100 by Staffing Industry Analysts in 2011-2016 and was among the first class of the Staffing 100 Hall of Fame in 2017. He can be reached at scott (at) ScottWintrip (dot) com.

Scott Wintrip

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