24/7/365 operations, global connectivity and information overload are all conspiring to create the “overwhelmed employee”. Recent research by Deloitte has identified the need for organisations to simplify the work environment to create more time for thinking and increase productivity.
Read the ABC News story from 04 November 2014, or listen to the podcast recording.
“Information overload and the always connected 24/7 work environment are overwhelming workers, undermining productivity and contributing to low employee engagement”, concluded Deloitte researchers following Deloitte’s annual Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey. How was that conclusion reached? Is it a global issue? And what are the implications for organisations?
After canvassing the views of more than 2,500 business and HR leaders in 94 countries, Deloitte researchers found that the overwhelmed employee is a global business concern. Further, while two-thirds of leaders recognised the imperative to change, almost half said they were “not ready” to deal with it. Given this context, the researchers make recommendations about where companies can start their change efforts.
The aim of the survey was to investigate the prevalence and impact of the “overwhelmed employee” phenomenon, and to develop recommendations to enable companies to mitigate the trend and support their overwhelmed employees.
In late 2013 Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2014 omnibus survey was sent to 2,532 business and HR leaders in 94 countries. 2,447 respondents answered the questions relating to overwhelmed employees including regarding whether organisations:
1. rate “the overwhelmed employee” as an urgent issue of concern
2. rate themselves ready to respond to “the overwhelmed employee”
3. help employees to manage information and schedules
4. help leaders manage demanding schedules and expectations.
The key findings of the Global Human Capital Trends 2014 survey focused on three areas:
The research findings clearly identify global concerns around the overwhelmed employee issue, as well as a lack of concerted effort to address the challenge. The individual company initiatives highlighted that some initial positive steps are being taken to enable employees to reduce unproductive time and focus on the core tasks of their role, but much more needs to be done.
The report concluded with seven ideas about how companies can start to lead the change:
1. Lead through example, with senior leaders taking the initiative
2. Get input from employees about frustrating/time wasting work practices
3. Simplify HR and talent programs
4. Simplify information and HR systems
5. Publicise and celebrate flexible work policies
6. Make meetings more productive (focussing on the size of the group and length of the meeting)
7. Delegate decision making.
The report concluded “companies need to recognise that the overwhelmed, hyper-connected employee is a business concern. The opportunity for business and HR leaders is to find ways to make information easier to find, simplify processes and systems, keep teams small and make sure leaders provide focus”. Such intervention will help improve engagement, team work and productivity.
To read the full article, see “The overwhelmed employee – Simplify the work environment” Junankar P. N., Paul S., Yasmeen W. (2014) “Global Human Capital Trends 2014 – Engaging the 21st-century workforce” pp. 97-102.