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Frontline Employees and Directed Attention Fatigue

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THE JOBS OF frontline employees may not always require a lot of physical activities, but it can leave them feeling exhausted and how they feel can have a big impact on their customer service. It is not uncommon when working in a fast-paced customer service environment for frontline employees to feel tired and drained. Continuously hopping from one task to another can lead to something called Directed Attention Fatigue.

According to Dr Rachel Kaplan, Dr Stephen Kaplan, Dr Bernadine Cimprich, and colleagues of the University of Michigan, we show signs of Directed Attention Fatigue, or DAF when we temporarily feel unusually distractible, impatient, forgetful, and cranky, and there is no physical cause. “Directed Attention Fatigue (DAF) is a neurological symptom which occurs when the inhibitory attention system, that part of the brain which allows us to concentrate in the face of distractions, becomes fatigued.”

In an article published by Troutfoot.com titled ‘What is Directed Attention Fatigue’, the signs of DAF are expounded.

• Input – We may feel more distractible, have trouble listening, hear things wrong, or miss things.

• Thinking – We may have trouble focusing, leave things half done, forget things, lose things, find it hard to think, get confused more easily, and think less creatively.

• Acting – We may act on impulse, take chances, act impatient, make more mistakes, blurt things out, jump to conclusions, and overindulge.

• Emotions – We may feel more irritable, bothered by small stuff, find it harder to handle noise and commotion, feel more moody, or emotional unstable.

• Planning – We may find it harder to make plans and decisions, take steps in the right order to follow plans, do more than just react to events. We may find it hard to get moving or stick with dull chores. We may lose our perspective.

• People – We may be more likely to take offense, laugh, cry or talk too much, or at the wrong times. We may miss cues, act hopeless, or silly, we may be less likely to help, be considerate, and give other people a break.

In a 2005 Harvard Business Review article, psychiatrist Edward Hallowell said that Directed Attention Fatigue symptoms match the symptoms for Attention Deficit Disorder or ADD.

Join us next week to learn what might help Directed Attention Fatigue and in so doing improve your customer service experience.

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