Do employees add more value by multi-tasking?

It is common for companies to “multi-task” their employees as it is seen as a good way to get many things done at once. It becomes a plus point in the CVs of many job seekers, and it has become a skill sought after by many employers. 

However, psychologists and productivity experts have discovered that multi-tasking is not very effective.  More mistakes are made, details are overlooked, and things fall between the cracks. Both productivity and quality of work suffer.  In fact, some researchers suggest that multitasking can actually reduce productivity by as much as 40%.

This is because employees’ attention and energy are divided into many tasks/projects. Multitaskers are more easily distracted than those who focus on one task at a time. In worst case, it could take a toll on their health due to the stress of having too many deadlines and they lose sight of their job responsibilities.

The next question would be “is multi-tasking doable?”

There are some constructive suggestions to make multi-tasking more manageable, such as:

  1. Limit the number of things employees have to juggle with to 2 tasks per one time. It will make it easier for them to prioritise the tasks rather than switching between tasks without being fully engaged. 
  2. Assign related works. Employees can work on more than one task simultaneously when the tasks are related. 
  3. Explore the possibility of automation to reduce the time spent in doing repetitive work, so that the time can be better spent to do others. Leverage on the government support schemes to invest in technology and training  that simplify, digitise and automate business processes. The goal is to minimize reliance on labour for mundane manual work. Most system also provides visibility of the data and business analytic capability that enable the company to effectively trim cost and plan its marketing and product innovation.

While there are some tasks that can and have to be run simultaneously, it is still better to focus on one task at hand as much as possible for the best  result!