Is digital white noise drowning out your communication?

Back in 1941, the writer CS Lewis said “If we let ourselves, we shall always be waiting for some distraction or other to end before we can really get down to our work.”  

If that was what he thought back then, he’d be despairing now.  

Even pre-pandemic, employees reported feeling distracted 70% of the time at work. Now that remote and hybrid working is the norm, we’re always online, and often battling with the distractions of home life alongside the temptations of social media. 

What does that mean for us when so much of what we do is about getting people’s attention long enough to deliver that all-important message?  

Attention equals value – so for businesses, their colleagues’ attention is their most valuable resource. And the way we think about it needs to change. We need to see it as our job to manage employees’ attention in a more holistic way. 

So, rather than seeing each communications challenge individually, as one problem to be solved at a time, we need to work across the entire employee experience. In other words, we need to stop treating individual symptoms and start managing the long-term condition. 

Here are three things you can start doing today  

  1. Look through the other end of the telescope. A technique we’ve often used with clients is to create personas (based on real, anonymised data) that represent their audiences. We then run an exercise mapping each persona’s day, from the moment they wake up until bedtime, to better understand how they’re experiencing communication and where the stress points are. This enables communicators to streamline, simplify, measure and refine their approach.   
  2. Take a step back and look at how you’re now using your channels – and how people are responding. Has your quarterly Town Hall stopped being a forum for discussion and started being a monthly/fortnightly place to dump all information, about everything? A live event should be dedicated to content that can only be shared live. If this is happening in your business, spend some time and creativity finding other vehicles for anything that sits outside that definition. And you may need to get tough with your speakers. 
  3. Are you conveying meaning, or creating something meaningful? You will get and keep people’s attention with communication that has a human element to it, that speaks to the values that your audience shares or that demonstrates a wider business purpose beyond profit. People need to feel connected to something that matters, now more than ever. 

If you need to re-frame and re-think how you manage the valuable and finite resource that is your employees’ attention, we can help. You can get in touch via hello@the-thread.com, or for more ideas to help you deliver impact, sign up to our newsletter using the form on this website. 



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