While sponsors may be knocking it out of the park with relevant, timely topics, the real key is communication that is easily understood and motivates action. Working with employees’ needs by using strategies familiar to those with ADHD and adapting them to use them for a wider audience, including those who have more recently developed difficulties concentrating, can be the key to success.
As I’m writing this article, I’m also cycling through several other tasks. For a minute I’m chatting to a friend via text, then continue researching retirement readiness trends (because I’m nothing if not consistent in my passion for financial savviness). I’ll finish a paragraph then get up to refill my water bottle. It turns out I’m not the only one dividing my attention across multiple lanes; across the board, workers are having trouble focusing.
There is a myriad of reasons, of course. Pandemic-related stress is at the forefront; with everyone at home, that meant more things that require attention (parents of young children who were suddenly learning from home know exactly what I mean). Even when actively avoiding Covid-related news, the dire backdrop meant stress levels were up and affected adults’ ability to focus. Not only that but contracting COVID-19 can also cause both short- and long-term difficulties with memory, attention, executive function, and concentration. Even now that millions are vaccinated and we’re starting to return to pre-pandemic activities, workers still struggle to herd their brain cats.
For some, dealing with distraction and additional barriers that prevent focus isn’t exactly a new development. ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) isn’t just a mental health disorder that affects children; studies estimate that nearly 10% of adults are estimated to have ADHD. When figuring out how to best support and communicate with employees who may have difficulty concentrating, sponsors can borrow the same strategies and solutions that help employees with ADHD.
What is ADHD?
While there are common traits, such as disorganization, restlessness, poor time management, difficulty focusing and following through, distractibility, and impulsive behavior, ADHD manifests differently across the gender spectrum and present differently in children vs. adults. For the over-18 crowd, it’s less the stereotypical “ooh a squirrel!” than it is “I know I put that paper on my desk somewhere…” in reference to a desk covered in papers, or a coworker who’s always running late. There are also variations between individuals, which means that two people with ADHD may have very different experiences. For example, some people with ADHD may be great at multitasking because it provides stimulating variety, while others may not because they have difficulty starting a task, let alone multiple. However, there are a few approaches that cover some of the most common ADHD traits that can be used to reach a wider neurodiverse audience, too.
There’s no one “right” way to go about communicating with employees, but it’s important to prepare in a way that anticipates the audiences’ needs. While sponsors may be knocking it out of the park with relevant, timely topics, the real key is communication that is easily understood and motivates action. Working with employees’ needs by using strategies familiar to those with ADHD and adapting them to use them for a wider audience, including those who have more recently developed difficulties concentrating, can be the key to success.
These articles are prepared for general purposes and are not intended to provide advice or encourage specific behavior. Before taking any action, Advisors and Plan Sponsors should consult with their compliance, finance and legal teams.
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