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How Level of Education Impacts Employee Productivity

Take a look at the relationship between an employee's level of education and how much time they're wasting at work, and how to get your distracted employees back to higher levels of productivity.

Is the high-powered sales rep with the MBA more productive than an entry-level employee, for example? Does an employee’s education level play a role in their level of productivity? Original research from Paychex offers an inside look on who's really wasting the most time at work, based on a survey of 2,000 full-time employees in different industries across the U.S. The answers may surprise you! Take a closer look at the relationship between an employee's level of education and how much time they're wasting at work—and how to get your distracted employees back to higher levels of productivity.

The Role of Education in Wasting Time

According to our survey results, more highly educated employees waste more time. 60.8% of employees with a high school education or lower wasted less than one hour per day. 54.9% of those with an associate's degree wasted less than an hour, while 52.3% of those with a bachelor's degree wasted the same. However of the respondents, the extreme time-wasters – who were distracted for more than three hours each day – were more prevalent across more educated employees: 9.9% held an associate's degree, 8.5% a master's degree, and 8.29% a bachelor's degree.

Getting Your Team Back On Track

Distractions can beckon to every employee throughout the workday. However, wasted hours means wasted productivity, and this can cut into your profits and revenue. Too much distraction can also signal low employee engagement, which can hurt morale and performance. HR leaders can invest time helping their employees stay engaged. Some use IT-related policies such as website blockers and Internet policies that survey respondents noted were ineffective. In fact, employees who want to access sites may just use their smartphones, which ultimately creates more distractions.

Instead, companies that want to make real gains in getting distracted employees back on task need to think of this as a human capital management problem. Effective strategies to consider include:

  • Ensure that your team has adequate breaks, both during the day and throughout the week, month and quarter. When your workforce is well-rested, it's easier to focus.
  • Active management presence can keep people from getting distracted during the day, by providing physical oversight or frequent check-ins to monitor progress toward goals.
  • Time-tracking software can help managers see what their team is spending time on, and which can help make management and members of the workforce more aware of their time.
  • Productivity training and other hands-on solutions can provide your workers with strategies for getting back on track when they're feeling distracted.

While everyone takes a moment to read a news article or make a brief personal call occasionally, these behaviors should be the exception rather than the rule. When members of your workforce are routinely wasting as much as three hours per day, it's time to step back and evaluate employee engagement, management practices, and hiring. If you've determined that there's an opportunity to help your workforce stay on track, focus on helping your team feel motivated, productive, and focused with strong management, the right technology tools, and smart company policies.


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