If we think about the most common factor involved in all accidents; especially workplace related, it would be hard to argue the fact that attention span, or better yet lack of would be at the top. For those that would like to argue that alcohol or drugs would play a part they would be correct as well. Even though, the byproduct of these always equates to an impaired ability in terms of decision making, it is alike to an impaired ability to pay attention or a shortened attention span in general.

In fact, I challenge anyone to argue that the majority of today’s social problems stem from the fact that a person’s attention span has shortened greatly in the past generation. Now, the saying `variety is the spice of life’ certainly wasn’t created anytime recently but the one major difference between then and now is the options we have available, literally at our fingertips. The idea of getting off the couch to change the channel is appalling to today’s generation. The term `channel surfing’ wouldn’t exist if we had nothing to surf or the convenience wasn’t there to do so. This practice of `surfing’ has now expanded into many more aspects in society and as a result has made a number of life’s components disposable, which were once held in high regard.

What does all this mean, and how does this relate to investigations or anything in the workplace you ask?

In my opinion the number one component that has diminished is the loyalty society now possesses in our work, at home and at play. The amount of people that move from job to job is unprecedented and could only be kept track through some type of computer program, or better yet a service of some sort…….wait, we have that! That’s right for many of us without Linkedin we would lose contact with many of our colleagues as they drop into the abyss of the labour pool. This of course directly affects the workplace because of the fact that retention becomes far more difficult when virtual carrots are continuously being dangled throughout cyberspace trying to apprehend your most valued employees based on the successes and skills that have continuously updated for all to see.

When we talk about our home life and how that has changed, this may be the biggest catalyst for workplace violence. Listed in the top ten stressors of life, marital problems and divorce always ranks in the top five. This type of stress will always permeate within the workplace and cause a short fuse to those having the experience. In the vast majority of all family court matters social media has been presented as evidence in some capacity. This has certainly raised the profile of domestic disputes throughout the workplace in particular, so much so that they now have become a major part of what the human resources branch have now been tasked to monitor whether the relationships are in house or otherwise, as they all have propensity to lead to workplace violence.

We are witnessing an era where the world has the biggest addiction in history…..technology. In some cases it is absolutely necessary in order to survive competitively; however, in many cases we have chosen to place a leash around us and allow anyone to contact us at anytime. In many workplaces we have policies in place outlawing the use of these devices during work hours. Not even 15 years ago we would have had to wait for a break to make contact with anyone on a personal level. Nowadays while somebody is assembling what could be a lifesaving device on the manufacturing floor, their attention may be divided with the fact that they have to grab a bag of milk on the way home by a reminder they may have just received.

On top of all the compounding expenses to stay competitive in the marketplace, perhaps one of the biggest challenges we face is to ensure that in crucial times we ignore all the distracting options (whether they are technology based or otherwise) and pay attention; after all we are the ones controlling the technology?