Jami-Lei finds out more on the topic of depleting attention span and what this means for the future.
When I was younger, I could spend a whole day watching films and only distracting myself to top up on popcorn. Now, I can barely watch one film without looking at my phone at least once. The research on this topic says that depleting attention span tends to centre around millennials but, after speaking to a few non-millennials, I’m beginning to think it’s affecting more and more people regardless of age.
Responsibility for this must lie with our attachment to mobiles and social media. Social media outlets have caught on to the trend of a shorter attention span, introducing ‘stories’ into every platform out there and phasing out the traditional news feed. ‘Stories’ are limited to a number of seconds and tend to be videos rather than text-based posts. By tapping on your screen, you can flick through maybe ten people’s ‘stories’ in less than a minute. Some social trend sites such as Buffer have predicted that this form of social media could take over the news feed we’re used to – no more scrolling through individual posts and seeing comments. People who use these social media platforms are becoming accustomed to taking in random information at a rapid pace. The more we get used to this, the shorter our attention span will become as it adapts.
Millennials are known for their preference to multitask, which could be linked to a shortened attention span. However, studies from the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, have shown that excessive multitasking can reduce productivity by around 40%.
Gen Z (born between 1995-2014) has already entered the workplace and the gradual increase in their numbers could necessitate change in the way businesses are run. Working from home, flexible hours and a heavier focus on work/life balance are already becoming more present in businesses.
It’s useful to look at what this means right now and it comes down to engagement. Millennials, in general, have a greater need to be engaged with their jobs and day-to-day role. Gallup recorded that in the UK alone, only 17% of employees are engaged at work. Worldwide, this figure is 13%. The importance of employee engagement cannot be emphasised enough; it impacts areas such as productivity, efficiency and employee happiness to name just a few.
It seems that for the younger generation it’s growth that keeps them engaged. Millennials want to grow in their careers and develop themselves professionally. They find this one of the most attractive offers from a potential employer. PwC found that career progression was more favoured by millennials than a competitive wage.
So, in the great game of millennials and Gen Z versus the workplace, it seems that opportunities for career growth trump a short attention span and low engagement!