We talk in this blog about some pretty advanced training concepts and forms of employee learning, but sometimes what’s needed is basic training — if you’ll pardon our borrowing a military expression.

That point emerges from a recent survey done by the Harris organization for CareerBuilder.com. The pollsters asked two groups — 2,138 hiring managers and HR professionals, and 3,022 full-time, private sector workers — what the main vectors of unproductive activity were in their workplaces.

And while fiddling around with technology, in the form of e-mails, texts and social media, did account for a lot of the lost time, there was another substantial time-waster: Various forms of thoughtless or even downright rude behavior.

Noise and distractions
For example, fully 42% of the employers surveyed said that gossip was the primary impediment to productivity in their workplaces. Some 24% mentioned noise by co-workers that prevented employees from concentrating, while 23% pointed to co-workers dropping by other employees’ offices, desks or cubicles uninvited, and 10% to people putting calls on speaker phone.

You’d think that not inflicting these kinds of distractions on others is pretty basic. It is. But sometimes, as we said earlier, basic training is what’s needed.

Don’t be shy to call a session or two to remind people about common office etiquette. If you know a consultant or industrial psychologist who specializes in good workplace behavior, that’s great.

But if you haven’t got access to someone like that, you might collect a list of pet productivity peeves from your people — anonymously — and discuss them in a departmental or team meeting. Confronted with bad behavior that they know very well they’ve engaged in, employees are likely to turn over a new leaf … at least for a while.

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