Distraction in the Workplace: An Avoidable Risk

When most people talk about workplace safety and workplace hazards, they’re referring to environmental, structural, and traffic issues. These might include an absent safety railing on a high ledge, perilously hot ambient temperatures, inadequate noise protection, or poorly maintained machinery. With proper training, most managers and HR pros recognize a standard workplace hazard when they see one (or feel or hear it).

But there’s one workplace problem that doesn’t get as much attention, and is just as likely to cause an accident or injury: distraction. As the saying goes, distracted drivers are as dangerous as inebriated drivers, and the same rule applies to workers. What are you doing to protect your employees from this often preventable hazard? Keep these tips in mind.

Solicit feedback from your teams.

The best way to find out more about the dangers faced by your workers is to simply ask them. Encourage honesty by distributing anonymous surveys and/or maintaining an open door policy so employees can report any problem at any time without fear of judgement or criticism. If any employee in your workplace identifies a potentially dangerous distraction—anything from an overly-bright light fixture to a constantly running TV screen—reward the employee for bringing it to your attention.

Pay close attention to teams who rely on concentration and focus.

If some of your employees are operating potentially dangerous, high speed, or precision machinery, keep a close eye on these employees especially. Enforce regular break periods and rest periods. Deliberately remove anything from the ambient environment that may break their concentration even momentarily. Consider every form of visual and auditory stimulation that comes their way; even a bad smell can derail focus for a crucial second. Reduce these problems at the source.

Coworkers can be the biggest distraction of all.

If your employees work in teams or partner pairs, make sure these pairs are stable and functional. If they aren’t, separate mismatches quickly and rotate pairings on a regular basis. Don’t allow coworkers to threaten each other’s safety, even with well-intended but poorly timed conversation. Provide privacy barriers and sound barriers for work stations that benefit from structural boundaries.

Take all complaints seriously.

Some workers are distracted by sounds and intrusions that don’t bother others. But if an employee complains about a squeaking fan, or flapping tarp, a chatty coworker, a divided responsibility, or an occasional blast of cold air across his or her workstation, don’t dismiss the concern. Address the problem in any way you can; Either eliminate the distraction or shift the employee to another area where the distraction won’t cause an accident.

For more on how to keep your workers safe from all hazards, including innocent distractions, contact the staffing and management experts at Lift Temp.

Fired? How to Discuss this Fact during your Interview

You’ve been polishing your elevator pitch and working on your personal brand, and you’re ready for just about anything during your upcoming interview. But there’s one question that you’re dreading above all others: Why did you leave your last position?

If you left your last job involuntarily, most employers will want to know a little more about the circumstances surrounding this event. After all, if you were dismissed due to reckless negligence, ignorance of your responsibilities, or unprofessional behavior, they’ll want to factor this into their final hiring decision. It doesn’t mean you’ll be dropped immediately from the running, but it’s still something your potential employers will want to know about…probably.

On other hand, some employers won’t ask about these details and will give you the benefit of the doubt. And almost all responsible employers understand that involuntarily job loss usually has nothing to do with personal performance or bad behavior. Here are a few tips that can help you navigate this conversation when and if it comes up.

Don’t Bring It Up

Don’t assume you’re being proactive or helping your case if you jump in front of the subject before your employers ask about it. As far as you’re concerned, the entire conversation should focus solely on your strengths, your credentials, and your relevant experience. If your interviewer chooses to ask about this detail, answer politely and provide whatever information is requested of you. But if not, just let it lay.

Keep Red Flags out of Your Resume

As you complete your resume, state your dates of employment clearly and honestly. Attempts to fudge this information are usually much more transparent than most job seekers believe. And if your resume reveals a leaning toward sketchy behavior, this can spark an avalanche of skeptical questions during the interview.

Answer Completely, Directly, and Honestly

If you’re asked exactly why you were dismissed from your last job, don’t dodge the question, but don’t provide more information than necessary. Fine the fine line between downplaying a potentially serious issue and incriminating yourself by saying too much. If you were dismissed due to a layoff or cutback, just say so, and then redirect the conversation back to your strengths. If you were fired due to poor performance or a behavioral issue, simply explain what happened in your own words, and be brief but direct. Don’t over apologize, and don’t make excuses or blame someone else for your misdeeds. Just own your mistake, discuss what you learned from the incident, and move on.

Control the Drama

As you explain, keep reading your employers cues, gestures, and body language to determine when you’ve adequately addressed the subject and it’s time to move on. As soon as she seems ready to let the subject go, stop speaking.

For more on how to handle this potentially volatile issue and keep it from undermining your chances of landing a new job, reach out to the staffing experts at Lift Temp.