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According to a frequently cited Gallup Survey, only about 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. High levels of disengagement have been linked to high turnover rates and poor company performance. Engaging workers at every level is one of the top priorities for CIOs, CEOs, and other company leaders. Businesses and organizations from every industry acknowledge the importance of engagement but struggle with how to foster it. One theme emerging from the initiative to engage audiences is the use of technology.
Whether it is in the classroom or in the boardroom, technology can be influential in promoting user engagement. However, it also risks crossing the line from engagement to distraction.
How can you tell if your technology is a useful tool for engagement or a harbinger for distraction? Here are some ways that you can tell the difference and tips for avoiding distraction.
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1. Define your purpose
One of the biggest mistakes that organizations can make is buying the latest devices or high-tech software before having a clear, defined purpose for using them. For instance, if you frequently hold meetings and lose valuable time setting up cables or troubleshooting installation problems, investing in a new wireless presentation software might be worthwhile.
Leaders of an organization should first ask what do we need? Then, how will it help make users and workers more productive? If it’s possible to achieve your purpose efficiently without the use of the proposed hardware or software, then it is more likely to become a source of distraction than engagement.
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2. Establish Guidelines
Today’s workforce is showing an increased desire for engagement technologies in the workplace. In the 2015 Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey, a significant percent of Millennial and Generation X respondents stated that the technology that employers use to communicate with them matters. In another study, 70 percent of employees said engagement software would improve their work performance.
It is important for organizations to fill this growing desire for technology. In order to avoid the tech from becoming distracting though, they need to establish a clear set of user guidelines. Leaders can even set user parameters for some tools.
An example of this is the growing use of social media at work as a successful method of engaging workers. This can easily become a distraction. Facebook has recently launched “Facebook at Work”, a platform designed specifically for organizations to work together, but with a similar social media model.
3. Limit your usage
Too much of a good thing can always turn bad. There are hundreds of gadgets and tech for users to choose from, which can make it hard to choose the right ones. Narrow the number of gadgets, collaboration tools, and tech-driven programs that you implement to a few at a time.
Leaders can set specific hours and times for employees to use a new e-learning program, technology, or other tool. These new devices are meant to enhance performance, but relying on them too often can backfire.
In the end, how you implement these new gadgets will determine whether or not they will engage or distract your workers. If you communicate your expectations to users from the beginning, set clear parameters, and don’t grow heavily depend upon them, you’re less likely to turn a tool for engagement into a source of distraction.

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