Can You Pay Attention Longer Than A Goldfish?

Communication Tips to Get Your Employees to Take Action

By CB Morris, Senior Communication Consultant

The coronavirus pandemic continues to provide employees with countless distractions that tax their already brief attention spans. Research before the pandemic had human attention span at 8 seconds – which is less than the attention span of a goldfish (9 seconds)!

So, we shouldn’t be surprised it’s challenging to get employees to take action. Whether it’s to respond to a request, take a brief survey or fill out that performance review, there’s never been a better time to communicate with clarity to empower your employees to act.

Follow these simple tactics to help employees prioritize what needs to get done and the outcome you need.

The Messenger Matters
The subject and who the sender is are the first thing the reader sees in emails. Most employees are more responsive to messages from a leader or their manager. If you are not the manager, it could help to copy the manager.

Grab Them by the… Subject Line
Subject lines should be clear and also catch attention. Craft your subject line thoughtfully. Keep it brief and give the recipient a reason to open the email and act.

Make It Easy as 1-2-3
Sometimes vital information is buried in the second or third paragraph or even in the closing of an email. Remember the 8 second rule! Some employees may be reading from a mobile device or only scan the first couple of lines before moving on. So help them quickly understand what you need them to do right away:

  1. Summarize the request (brief is best)
  2. Highlight the action (what you need them to do) – including an estimated time requirement is a bonus!
  3. Set a clear deadline (this helps employees prioritize the action)

Hide Then Show the Details
Some employees need the details before they can take action. Others prefer to “cut to chase” and want to skip the fine points – so offer both options. But do it thoughtfully. If more information could help your employees to understand the request or importance to the business, summarize it next. You can include links to resources or a contact to answer questions.

Don’t Fail to Follow up
When a deadline is missed, be sure to have a plan to follow-up. It could be on a team call or more personal check-in. But failure to follow up on requests can set you up for more “non-responsiveness” in the future.

Need help crafting communication that gets heard above the noise?
We can help.