Healthy Employees, Happier Other Employees, Healthy Counties

That hacking cough coming from the next cubicle over could reduce the productivity of everyone in earshot, reports NPR’s Morning Edition. Sounds – particularly human-made sounds – rank as the top distraction in the workplace.

According to workplace design expert Alan Hedge at Cornell, 74 percent of workers say they face “many” instances of disturbances and distractions from noise.

“In general, if it’s coming from another person, it’s much more disturbing than when it’s coming from a machine,” he says, because, as social beings, humans are attuned to man-made sounds.  ….

This does not bode well for some workers facing cold and flu season, when hacking coughs make the rounds. But some people, such as Milwaukee Web developer Taj Shahrani, contend with it year-round.

He had a colleague who sat a short cubicle wall away and would, as he says, “shout-cough” at regular intervals.

“He never covered his mouth,” he says. The violent episodes, which Shahrani and another colleague kept tallies of, would shake his desk and interrupt conversations and phone calls. ….

“It’s sort of taboo to criticize someone for an illness,” Shahrani says. It’s only months later, when he was moved to a new desk in an office reshuffling, that he realized just how much more work he accomplished without constant interruption.

Listen to or read the full report here.

At the MACo Winter Conference session, “Healthy Employees, Healthy Counties,” county administrators explore how to encourage public servants to maintain healthy lifestyles, to improve morale and increase productivity in the county workplace.

Healthy Employees, Healthy Counties

Encouraging our public servants to maintain healthy lifestyles can not only save counties in health care costs, but also improve morale and increase productivity. Programs offered by local governments, health care and insurance providers encourage government employees to take advantage of wellness programs in creative ways. Learn about how to get a healthier, fitter, happier workforce today.


  • Christina Stasiuk, Cigna
  • David Johnson, Vice President, Segal Consulting
  • Beverly Churchill, Queen Anne’s County

Date/Time: Thursday, December 8, 2016; 3:30 pm – 4:30 pm

The MACo Winter Conference will be held December 7-9, 2016 at the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Resort in Cambridge, Maryland. This year’s conference theme is “An Ounce of Prevention”.

Learn more about MACo’s Winter Conference: