Corporate Cognitive Training
Have you ever found yourself in a regularly scheduled meeting with the same group of colleagues only to suddenly forget the name of the person sitting across from you? Have you ever been snowed under with competing priorities and tried to multitask your way out of it, only to feel you couldn't focus on anything properly? How about recalling the right answer to a corporate question just after you’ve left a meeting reviewing that policy?
Today’s workplace is no longer limited to an office or cubicle. With smartphones and cloud-based computing it’s become much more difficult to leave work at the office. And that, along with other elements, has an effect on our lives and our brains.
The cognitive function and performance of our brains peak in our early 20s. If we want to continue the functioning at the same high pace after that point, we need to keep those 100 billion+ neurons in shape. As we walk through our 30s, 40s and 50s, things like our attention span and our brain’s speed at which it processes information continues to decline. It’s worth noting that our ability to effectively react and recall events is largely determined by how engaged we are and how quickly our brain can process information. It is somewhat ironic that we grow our career specific knowledge and experiences at the time that cognitive change is occurring. These new skills we gain tend to mask our slower responses and reflexes. Ideally we would be able to avoid a cognitive decline while experiencing this career growth. It is possible for an employee to keep those billions of neurons in shape but it requires both the employee and executives to understand how the human brain functions so they can develop a cognitive fitness program that will increase the success of employees and, in turn, the resiliency of the organization.
One of the more common complaints of today’s workplace is the need to constantly multitask. While certain employees may feel they’re great multitaskers, and it gives them a rush to work on many things at once, studies have shown that heavy multitaskers are actually worse at it than employees who like to focus on one thing at a time. That is, dividing your attention across activities and multiple devices means your brain cannot give any of them the attention required and there may be long-term effects to brain health.
A survey that was conducted using over 350,000 employees, estimated that up to 52% of employees in the US are disengaged at work (18% actively disengaged) and that these disengaged employees are costing the US Government between $450-550 billion a year in lost productivity.
The results from this and similar studies have led the CEOs of fast growing startups and large corporations to create corporate strategies to deal with cognitive overload. However, employees’ disengagement is not necessarily because of cognitive overload, poor cognitive fitness can also be a major contributor.
Luckily, because of the plastic nature of our brains both areas can be improved. The brain’s ability to rewire itself is the best tool for fighting off cognitive disengagement and reversing cognitive decline.
If you could travel back fifty years ago and suggest that a CEO build a gym at the office so employees could stay fit in order to remain healthy and stay focus, you would likely be laughed out of the room. And, yet, today most employers either have a gym within the building or offer a membership deal at a local gym for precisely that reason. Just like keeping employees physically healthy by offering gym memberships, improving their cognitive health, as Dr. Merzenich explains in the CEDA Science Future Series, will also keep everyone engaged and increase workplace efficiency.
It is an organizational oversight if ‘brain fitness’ is not incorporated into employee’s physical fitness programs. The goal here is to keep employees physically and mentally active, keep them focused, extend their attention span, remove some work related stress from their lives and, ultimately, improve their ability to work effectively now and for much longer into the future.
HR departments that aim to keep employees engaged and happy need to consider brain fitness alongside the many other health and lifestyle considerations that goes into keeping employees, and, by extension, an organization healthy and productive. By using a scientifically validated program such as BrainHQ, employees will be better prepared to focus on a task at hand, block out distractions, think faster and recall vital information for continued success. This is a relatively inexpensive approach for an organization to ensure the resilience of employees, helping them to stay productive, engaged, and successful.
Try a free BrainHQ exercise.