Whether you see it or not, you’re competing for your employees’ attention. From mobile notifications to social media, and even productive tools like Slack, the digital products your workforce uses are designed to grab attention. With all the notifications we receive throughout the day, it’s enough for even the most focused to lose their train of thought.

All this clamoring for attention has led to a continuous stream of distractions for everyone. Information overload is a constant reality. With information overload comes a scarcity of attention. This has turned employee attention into an invaluable resource that is, more and more, being drained away from your business.

With a barrage of slack messages pertaining to different tasks, ten different tabs begging to be clicked, and notifications from all their digital tools, you’re fighting for your employees’ attention. This fight for your workforce’s attention is known as the “attention economy”.

If an economy is a system to address scarcity, then the attention economy is how we allocate our increasingly scarce attention. In an environment where information is over abundant, attention becomes scarce. Those who can command the most attention possess the greatest economic potential. It may sound simple enough, but it has left an indelible mark on our society and, especially, the business world.

Although the phrase “pay attention” was not historically intended to refer to an economic exchange, it can certainly mean that today. As consumers, we are often required to pay with our attention via advertisements for the ‘free’ digital products and services we use. The ad revenue garnered from the attention of billions of users has made Silicon Valley the center of wealth that it is today.

These tech companies understand the value of attention. But, so far, the best practices of people strategy has not caught up with this core insight.

As a microcosm of the larger attention economy, your business reflects its larger trends. These trends show a marked decline in attention span.

According to a study by Microsoft, the average attention span has dropped precipitously in recent years: Dropping from 12 seconds in 2000 to a mere 8 seconds. This finding comes with large context specific caveats – we are still able to hold attention for long periods of time when we’re engaged in relevant or interesting ways. Suggesting we’re less tolerant of useless or boring information than before.

So we have a short attention span and are prone to switch back and forth between tasks. You might ask, “What’s the big deal? We thrive on multitasking.” Well, a consistent body of research has shown that there is no such thing as multitasking. Instead, there’s only ‘task switching’ – disrupting the flow of any given task – hampering the performance of each. According to a study at UC Irvine, every time an employee switches a task, or has their attention diverted, it takes an average of 25 minutes to get back into a focused flow state.

When you take the little distractions that everyone faces day to day and expand it to encompass an entire company, it starts to add up. Few estimates are readily available on the monetary cost of these distractions, but according to Jonathan B. Spira, analyst for Basex, information overload (and resulting multitasking) can cost 8 hours per week per employee.

Although these many challenges exist within the attention economy, the upside is that there are proven methods for grabbing your workforces attention.

Your people’s attention is scarce. That means to deliver information and learning materials effectively you have to signal that the information is worthy of their focus. When it comes to getting people’s attention and motivating them to act, few are better than marketers.

Marketers have so far dominated the attention economy. Methods like segmentation, utilizing the wealth of data we have available, has helped highly relevant content to get to the right people at the right time.

Regardless of how you may feel of how marketers have applied their methods, they have worked astonishingly well. We’ve all had that uncanny experience of receiving an ad for something we were just talking or thinking about. Now, imagine the power of bringing that level of targeting to your employees’ learning content. Utilizing your company’s data, ProHabits can do precisely that.

ProHabits reduces the complexity of initiatives by breaking them down into calls to action delivered by nudges. Users then receive these nudges within their workflows helping to sustain focus in the right areas. This helps reduce ambiguity and complexity for your workforce while still delivering essential content.

People leaders should take the same trail that was blazed by digital marketers in order to capture people’s attention and call them to action. It’s time people leaders added attention management to their toolbox to leverage the attention economy to their advantage.

Want to know more? Let’s chat!

A person smiling sitting on a couch working on a laptop

The gist

Exciting updates and new features are coming to ProHabits. If you haven’t already, you’re going to see a few changes to your ProHabits email and dashboard.

All in all, you’ll discover new features, a new look, and a simplified experience.

Here are some of the new elements you can expect to see:

1. It’s going to look a little different

The look is probably the first thing you’ll notice about the new and improved ProHabits. The visual updates go well beyond the color scheme. We cleaned a few things up, removed unused aspects of the dashboard, and have rearranged some things so they’re easier to find.

2. Your encouragements will count

You can now keep track of how often you’re encouraging your colleagues. With the encouragements count you see how many times you’ve reacted with a “like” in response to your colleagues’ stories.

You’ll find it by scrolling down on your dashboard.

where you'll find your encouragements counter on the dashboard

3. We’ve simplified the settings

You can find your Settings on the left side of dashboard.

All your settings will be found here.

  1. If available at your organization, you’ll select the days you want to be active here.
  2. Out of Office. Here you can tell us the days you will not be able to perform MicroActivities.
  3. Profile: Here you can change your personal information.

For mobile, it can be found by clicking on the top lefthand menu button.

4. You’ll be able to access your previous activities

You will be able to access your previous activities on your home page by clicking on My MicroActivities on the lefthand bar.

  1. Indicates the number of activities you’ve completed.
  2. A committed but unfinished activity will look like this.
  3. How a completed MicroActivity will look. Notice the option to ADD STORY
  4. What a completed MicroActivity looks like after all actions have been taken.

For mobile, you can find your previous MicroActivities by clicking on the upper lefthand menu button — shown below.

The takeaway

These new designs and features are here to provide an improved, simplified experience.

Overall, our new design is aimed at helping you turn your positive intentions into action. Now, the only question is: Will you Commit?

If you run into any snags, please contact us at happy@prohabits.com

Employee training and development is an 82.5 billion dollar industry. It covers everything from on-the-job training to specialized courses and beyond. Likely, your organization is already investing in some kind of training or development.

But how effective is all this spending? Many question its utility and, in fact, a recent McKinsey survey showed that only a quarter of respondents believed that training improved performance. Other research is even more worrisome showing that a mere 12% of employees apply skills from L&D programs to their jobs.

Given all this, you might be tempted to avoid the expense of workshops and other training initiatives altogether. But, in a high-tech rapidly developing marketplace, an upskilled workforce is essential. Further, research shows that 70% of employees don’t have the skills needed to do their jobs. This means that training is essential — but the workforce isn’t getting what it needs.

Although training and development budgets are often underutilized, this does not preclude the very real need for effective employee development. Currently, 93% of the workforce would stay at a company longer if invested in their careers. 

Further, today’s workforce needs more upskilling opportunities than ever.

So, how do you ensure greater efficacy in workshops and employee training overall? Here are 8 proven factors to make your employee training workshops more effective.

1) Align closely with organizational goals and values

The first way to ensure the efficacy of your training or workshops is to reinforce the goals and values of your organization. This may seem obvious, however, it is all too common for organizations to attempt to reinforce the values they wish they had or to pick goals that are detached from everyday operations.

Further, training should be as specific and actionable as possible. The most valuable training for your workforce identifies the key, everyday challenges of your team and offers concrete strategies to overcome them.

2) Have the right reasons

Too often workshops are used as a way to make things appear to have all the trappings of growth and development without the substance. It makes people look good or it offers a band-aid to a challenge this or that department is facing. But all this is just spinning the wheel.

Workshops should have specific intentions that align with larger organizational goals. Otherwise, workshops end up being a waste of time and money.

3) Identify quantifiable goals

To paraphrase Peter Drucker, if you can’t measure the outcome there’s no way to succeed.

Quantifying goals for your training offers several benefits. It ensures that the goals are clear, participants know what they need to do to succeed, allows for adjustments based on data, and, finally, it helps you determine the value of the training in clear terms.

Although traditionally difficult to measure, new technology has made quantifying success more attainable than ever.

4) Ensure content is relevant and actionable

The poetic and moving speeches of a motivational speaker are great — but they’re not much use if they’re not coupled with actionable advice. Instead, workshops should focus on the specific ways that participants can apply what they’re learning to their daily workflows.

5) Daily reinforcement after the fact

Real learning doesn’t just happen in one day — it takes consistent reinforcement over time. Even if workshop participants remember the lessons and stay motivated for a week or more, it slowly starts to fade. The thing is when the day-to-day demands return and things get busy people naturally return to what’s most comfortable.

The fact is if we don’t apply the new information we forget 75% of it in just six days. To really break old habits and to instill new skills, organizations need daily reinforcement for their training programs to stick.

Daily reinforcement utilizes what’s known as the psychological spacing effect — the link between frequent exposure and retention. Instead of forgetting 75% in a week, by taking advantage of this effect you can retain 80% for more than 3 months. 

6) Leverage micro-learning opportunities

Many of the lessons that stick with us over the years seem uneventful in the moment — but have a lasting positive effect. Because much of the way we learn has everything to do with the right piece of information conjoined to the right challenge. This is the power of micro-learning.

Successful workshops reinforce the key lessons by leveraging micro-learning opportunities. Once logistically difficult, new technology is making this more and more feasible.

7) Bring learning to the point of need

We humans didn’t survive our early history by learning abstract lessons in books. Rather, we learned in the moment from the demands of necessity. Even still, we learn skills best in the moment when we need them — rather than in workshops detached from on-the-ground realities.

This doesn’t mean workshops should be done away with — quite the contrary — but that they should be supplemented with new technology that helps apply workshop lessons at the point of need.

8) Review results and adjust

As with any new venture, it’s impossible to foresee all the challenges that come with training. So training initiatives are rarely perfect at first and need a period of trial and error before finding the right strategy.

This is where those quantifiable goals come in handy. Check out your data and be sure to identify what the workshop did right and where the next workshop could improve. Aim to understand why the results turned out the way they did.