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FOMO at the workplace: A double-edged blade

FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out, is often an underrated catalyst for employee productivity and engagement within an organization. However, while it is a useful tool to improve efficiency in the workplace, it is also a double-edged blade. The issues FOMO creates may also lead to the development of an inefficient, disengaged or distracted workforce.

Why are we experiencing FOMO?

According to an Indeed.com study, most employees tend to experience FOMO due to the workplace atmosphere. About 45% of employees report missing their team members and the workflow when they are unable to attend the office. This suggests that the work culture, camaraderie and competitiveness among a company's employees have an important effect on keeping the team members engaged with their work.

Effects of FOMO on employees:

In modern daily life, access to technology has become extremely easy. Consequently, emails and the internet have become an important part of the corporate work culture. It is common practice to always be on the phone, be it for business or leisure. However, this constant access can also impact mental health and productivity at work. Why do people seem distracted most of the time? It's because they want to know everything that is happening outside of their work life, and this information is always at their fingertips.

Some employees may feel that they are being more productive by multitasking, but that reiterates the point of having too much on one’s plate. This kind of consistent multitasking may prove to be more of a liability than an asset when team members opt to distract themselves from their work due to FOMO, rather than actually working on completing tasks and projects efficiently.

Effects of FOMO on organizations:

As stated before, FOMO can act as both a positive and negative tool for any company. It could lead to unintentional distraction among team members who, instead of working on their own priorities, choose to focus on projects that other teams are undertaking. It may also lead to certain employees wishing to be part of another department, thus leading to feelings of disengagement with their present role in the organization.

If the pros outweigh the cons of FOMO and it starts affecting the team’s performance, it is important to focus on communicating the same to the team. Strategies such as taking these factors into account when reporting employees’ performance reviews and helping team members focus better by setting up workshops on mindfulness and attention management may help curb the trend of low engagement and focus at the workplace.

FOMO as a management tool

FOMO often helps keep employees engaged with their work, which also lets it act as a resource to increase employee productivity. A report published by Deloitte suggests simple changes such as reducing the number of team emails and redundant communication, instead of flooding inboxes which often leaves employees overwhelmed. This reduction in communication may help team members pay more focused attention to the emails that do get sent. No one wants to be left uninformed about important details, and when there are fewer chances to stay in the loop, employees will pay closer attention and take advantage of them. Of course, you should not neglect your workforce, but there will be a notable change in your employees' responses when you can use this strategy correctly. Also ensure that employees have access to a trained mental wellness counsellor to address any challenges they may be facing.

Moving past FOMO:

FOMO is an inevitable part of professional life and cannot be completely eradicated from an organization. Therefore, the best course of action is to ensure that FOMO is being used as a beneficial tool, and not causing problems within the workplace. As employee engagement is an important key to organizational productivity, it's critical to keep the momentum going by using the correct communication strategies and incentives to keep your employees motivated, instead of leaving them overwhelmed and unfocused. Having access to a flexible corporate wellness program also helps alleviate concerns and drive a culture of better wellness among employees.

Aditya Prakash Swain is an adaptable and dynamic Digital Media Consultant responsible for content marketing strategy, conducting thorough research on industry-related topics, generating ideas for new content types and enhancing brands digital presence.