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Will the Olympics Distract Employees from Their Work?

Will the Olympics Distract Employees from Their Work?

Employers concerned that the 2012 Summer Olympic Games might create a workplace distraction can relax: A new survey suggests that American workers are choosing job security over Olympic fever this summer, with 84 percent claiming they will not follow the Olympic action live during the workday.

With the world’s top athletes in gymnastics, swimming, track and field, volleyball, basketball and more gearing up to compete at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, some employers may wonder if their workers will find it difficult to concentrate on the job. According to a new survey, however, employers have little worry about: 84 percent of American employees claimed they would not follow the Olympic events live during the workday.

That means that even with broad television, Internet and radio coverage of the Olympics Games, which kick of July 27 in London, fewer than 1 in 5 working Americans will follow the Olympics while on the clock.

"That is an incredible majority that reflects some of the ongoing economic uncertainty," said Dean Debnam, CEO at Workplace Options, which commissioned the survey. "Americans are still looking for job security, and the overwhelming sentiment is that they are not going to let potential distractions like the Olympics affect productivity."

Employers: Break for the Olympics

Debnam added, however, that the Olympics provide employers with a fresh opportunity to build good will amongst employees.

"The Olympics are always a huge source of national pride, and some of the marquis events are scheduled to take place during traditional work hours," Debnam said. "If employers can find a way to build some good will by allowing employees to take a short break by watching an anticipated race or event, it may be a small investment that will serve them well in the long term."

The survey results revealed that 33 percent of respondents have access to televisions for employee use during the workday, and that 21 percent said their employers allow workers to watch important news, ceremonies, speeches or sporting events during work hours. On the flip side, 64 percent of workers believe watching TV negatively impacts their work performance or productivity.

The results were different for Millennials, or Generation Y employees between the ages of 18 and 29. Thirty-eight percent of these younger workers claimed that watching TV or streaming video increases productivity, compared to just 14 percent of respondents overall.

"We've seen time and time again that younger workers report a greater ability to multi-task than workers of other age groups," Debnam said. "Some do work differently than other generations and can be more adept at integrating multimedia technology productively into the work day, but in general, Millennials are just as prone to workplace distractions as any other age group."

The national survey polled 552 working Americans and was conducted by the North Carolina firm of Public Policy Polling, May 17-19.

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