When work processes become too complex, employees begin to experience information overload. Overwhelmed by the stress that comes with too much information, a 24/7 business environment, and technology that contributes to overcomplication rather than an easier path forward, workers have a tendency to lose their drive. With lower engagement comes reduced efficiency, along with worse performance overall. The solution to the problem? Human capital experts recommend simplification.
How Information Overload Harms Business
In theory, unlimited access to information should encourage businesses to thrive. In fact, the opposite is true. In environments cluttered by too much data, people become confused, decision-making slows, and quality suffers. Employee engagement decreases as workers drown in a sea of endless details, customers receive sub-par service, and business suffers as a result.
What’s Behind the Overload?
While information overload occurs on a case-by-case basis, there are many common causes. In most instances, businesses discover multiple reasons for overburdened employees. Some prominent themes include:
- Atmospheres that value quantity over quality
- Multiple channels containing incoming information, i.e. email, websites, social media
- Complex, multi-step procedures for completing basic, repetitive tasks
- High-stress environments that value multitasking over focus
- Inflexible, overly formal work environments that discourage one-on-one communication
- Lax environments where workers spend their time distracted by social media feeds
- Endless emails and meetings where issues are rehashed rather than being addressed efficiently
Workplace tools that were built with the intention of streamlining processes are contributing to information overload, too. Many organizations rely on hundreds of systems to accomplish common tasks, and employees are forced to struggle with numerous login credentials and repetitive workflows simply to access the information they need during the course of each day’s work.
Strategies for Simplifying Work Processes
When simplifying work processes, it is essential to focus on keeping what is truly important and eliminating things that amount to clutter or chatter. Irrelevant data should be eliminated, transparency and collaboration should share the spotlight, and workflows should emphasize ease.
Simple as they sound, these goals can be insurmountable without the proper tools. In the past, businesses had difficulty finding the kind of clarity that leads to exceptional focus and highly efficient, perfectly streamlined processes. Meetings, endless memos, constant emails and telephone calls, and lengthy brainstorming sessions were essential, yet time-consuming practices that reduced efficiency. They managed to muddle through, though, as the information overload problem was still over the horizon.
Today’s businesses have new challenges heaped on top of traditional ones. According to a 2018 report from RingCentral, an incredible 69 percent of workers spend what amounts to 32 days worth of productivity per year simply making their way through essential apps and tools required for the completion of daily tasks. Imagine what employees could accomplish, if not for the need to swap between apps!
Things are looking up, though, as leading tech companies release solutions designed to simplify these work-related tasks and increase employee engagement simultaneously. In Sapho’s model for integrating data via its Employee Experience Portal for example, high-priority tasks and essential information are delivered to individual employees via personal workfeeds that prevent distraction and information overload. This portal works with existing systems and allows companies to regain lost productivity quickly and efficiently.
Even when business models rely on complex information, the tools and processes used in the completion of daily tasks should be as simple and streamlined as possible. With easy access to relevant data, workers are freed to provide customers with upgraded experiences that lead to satisfaction and in turn, to enhanced success for the business as a whole.