Where’s your head at? Keeping your mind on task.

It can be hard to stay focused throughout the day at work. This can be particularly problematic in jobs that have dangerous, even fatal, outcomes if you lose concentration.

A 2018 survey revealed that nearly 3 out of 4 workers (70%) admit they feel distracted at work, with 16% of people stating that they’re almost always distracted (Udemy: 2018 Workplace Distraction Report).

The answer to this problem is to improve focus in work zones. Here are some general tips for improving focus and concentration at work:

  • At the start of the day, make a list of all the tasks you aim to get done. Rank these in terms of priority and tackle the most important tasks first, when energy levels are optimal.
  • Set aside time to refocus. Doing a small action like taking a walk, making yourself lunch, or getting a coffee can help improve brain function and concentration.
  • Find a routine that works for you. Everyone accomplishes their best work at different times of the day to others. Find when you are your most productive and do challenging and dangerous tasks at that time. Repeating this routine every day can help you get into the habit of focusing on this work when you most need to concentrate.
  • Minimise online distractions. This can include email, phone calls, and checking social media. When you start an important task, let people know you are unavailable and turn your electronics to silent.
  • Drown out noise. Studies show that listening to music that you know and really enjoy can be distracting. So instead choose music or premade playlists that you are less familiar with, or otherwise instrumental songs or ‘white noise’ apps.
  • Focus on one task at a time. Research shows that the human brain is not wired to do more than two tasks at once. Multitasking splits our maximum level of attention between multiple activities, meaning neither activity is receiving our full attention. This can be dangerous in the case of handling heavy machinery. Instead, aim to work sequentially through your tasks throughout the day.

Another important aspect of your ability to concentrate is your mental and physical health. Always aim for 7 hours of sleep each night, stick to nutritious meals, limit caffeine and take active breaks.

In hazardous workplace environments, it is particularly dangerous if employees struggle with concentration. Focused workers are more productive, make fewer mistakes, and are less likely to be involved in accidents. Some tips that are particularly important in these environments include:

  • Limit distractions: in hazardous warehouse or factory environments, employee focus must be on their task, and the safety of their co-workers. Common distractions can include workplace chat, mobile phones, other personal technology, and workplace noise. Policies should be implemented to limit these distractions where possible.
  • Take regular breaks: long spells of work and continuous repetitive tasks lead to weariness and increase the risk of loss of concentration. Employees should be encouraged to take regular breaks, allowing for mental relaxation and recovery.


Create greater safety awareness amongst your employees through our comprehensive programs, tailored to your industry, people and specific job tasks. We can help you target the injury risk areas that are hurting your staff and your business the most.

Maintaining optimism to achieve your goals.

Now that we’re about a week past what many behavioural scientists have dubbed ‘quitting day’ (that is, about two weeks into the new year, by which time a disastrously high proportion of people have abandoned their new year’s resolutions) it’s a good time to discuss the power of a positive outlook.

We all know that having a positive outlook is important for achieving success and happiness. However, blind optimism can sometimes do more harm than good.

That’s where the concept of realistic optimism comes into play. Realistic optimism involves having a positive outlook while also acknowledging and preparing for potential challenges. It is having the courage to start something new and knowing failure could be a possibility.

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt “Do one thing every day that scares you.”

When it comes to health and wellness, realistic optimism can be a powerful tool.

By approaching our health journey with realistic optimism, we can stay positive while also taking proactive steps to overcome any challenges that may arise.

Here are some tips for incorporating realistic optimism into your health and wellness routine:

  1. Seek realistic change: Having a clear vision of what you want to achieve is important, but it’s equally important to set lifestyle changes that are realistic and most importantly, achievable. This will help you stay motivated and avoid feeling discouraged if you don’t see any results. For example, if you want to lose weight, set a number that’s achievable for your body type and lifestyle. Trying to lose 10 kilos in a week is not realistic and undoubtedly sets you up for failure. Instead, aim to lose 500g first, and then build from there.
  2. Focus on the positives: Focusing on the things that you can control and celebrating your progress along the way can help you maintain an optimistic outlook and stay motivated. Small wins are still wins. If you’re trying to incorporate more exercise into your routine, celebrate small victories like walking an extra block, parking your car further or stretching before you start your day. Don’t focus on feeling down when you miss more formal exercise opportunities, instead understand that every step forward is progress towards a more active lifestyle and should be celebrated.
  3. Prepare for challenges with a growth mindset: Acknowledge that setbacks and obstacles are likely to happen, a normal part of the process and also a learning opportunity. When you encounter a challenge, don’t give up. Instead, think about how you can overcome it or what you can learn from it so that it doesn’t prevent you from staying on track towards reaching your goals. For example, if you get sick and have low energy to exercise, don’t throw in the towel. Instead, focus on another part of your health, like hydrating a little more, getting good restorative rest, or adding in fresh foods loaded with vitamins and minerals so that you can recover well and get back on track.

By incorporating principles from this mindset into your daily routine, you can view health improvement (or any goals you are working towards) as a progressive journey rather than a series of chores that lead to an outcome. This perspective can help you to stay motivated and adapt to challenges as you work towards your health and wellbeing improvements.


Written by Karla Fruichantie – HBD International

Strategies to manage the top three mental health risks in the workplace.

A person’s mental health affects the way they function, especially in the workplace. Recently, Gallup Australia delivered its 2023 State of the Australian and New Zealand Workplace report. The findings in this report identified some worrying stats.

These include five out of 10 Australians are experiencing ‘a lot of stress’ at work, while 67% are ‘quiet quitting’ and only 20% are thriving.

To help counter these issues, below are some strategies that can help you manage various mental health risks in the workplace:

Stress – Nearly 79% of employees experience workplace stress, making it the most common mental health risk. Stress born out of conflict within the workplace can lead to headaches, for example, and long hours can lead to insufficient rest.

One management technique encouraged by experts is to observe transparency in the workplace. Encourage employees to bring up their concerns, such as impossible deadlines or uncooperative teammates. This will allow you to make the necessary changes to ensure a positive and productive working environment. If they’re new to the position or project, also grant them sufficient time to adjust to the workflow. Don’t expect big things on Week 1.

Burnout – Burnout has many causes but the two most common ones are heavy workloads and lack of control. Heavy workloads or unrealistic deadlines leave employees feeling overwhelmed. A lack of control over their schedule or assignments results in a sense of helplessness and quickly erodes employee motivation.

Organisationally, you can help prevent burnout with appropriate leave policies and allowing people to have some flexibility in their schedules or where they work. It can also pay to educate employees about personal strategies to manage their stress and energy by adopting smart health and recovery behaviours such as taking breaks, short walks, exercise, or breathing exercises. If employees are already suffering from burnout, understand that it is a legitimate physical and psychological condition and consider options to reassign them to lighter tasks and projects at least until they recover.

Presenteeism – Presenteeism is the act of coming to work despite being ill or distracted, resulting in a less productive day. According to management consultants, presenteeism usually happens when a company has limited or no paid sick days and unrealistic expectations for its employees.

To avoid this, establish and communicate clear policies. Let your workers know the amount of sick leave they have, and any other factors that can allow them to be excused from work. You can also avoid presenteeism by setting a good example. If you come to work when you’re sick, they may expect that they need to do the same.

Mental health risks in the workplace affect your business and employees at multiple levels, and as such, a layered approach to managing them by looking at policies, culture and individual education can help to avoid problems and secure your employees’ overall wellbeing and performance.

Health by Design’s proactive programs can help employers manage mental health and performance risks. From specialist executive programs to total population solutions, we help empower employees to better understand and manage their personal health, energy, and performance. Contact us to learn more.


Written for HBD International by Amy Copley.