In a large research study on human capital trends, 65-75% of organizations identified an issue called the “overwhelmed employee.” Leaders agreed this was a critical issue but said they didn’t know what to do about it.
I recently spoke with Josh Bersin, a fellow Forbes Contributor who is the Founder of Bersin by Deloitte, a leading provider of research-based membership programs in human resources, talent and learning. When Josh and his team looked at the data about overwhelmed employees, they found something else going on – the need to simplify the workplace.
He shared, “with mobile phones, email, text messages, global teams, conference calls, social media, and pretty soon even watches talking at us, there is so much stuff coming at us, we are constantly flooded and can’t get our work done, and we feel less productive than we were in the past.”
Forward thinking companies are recognizing the need to simplify the work environment and the company. According to Josh, “the key is to work really hard to declutter work. Stop sending so many emails. Reduce the number of things we ask people to do. Simplify the technologies we have. You can’t just layer more stuff onto people.”
GE is a good example of this with its new strategy “GE Simplification,” which involves delayering the company. GE found that business units with more managers to employee are less productive because multiple managers divide the employee’s attention, reducing their overall productivity. GE also uses a Lean Startup methodology to get products in front of customers earlier for feedback, which has helped them reduce cycle time. Simplifying has helped GE focus on what really matters.
Josh shared, “While most companies evaluate employees on hitting their goals, GE decided: ‘that’s not our priority. We need to focus on teaching people how to do LESS and do a better job on fewer things.’” They created a whole program to simplify an overwhelming workplace. They also reduced the number of HR functions and outsourced service centers.
Some companies shut off emails after hours and encourage leaders not to read or respond to email on nights or weekends. Josh said; “we have a policy at Deloitte now, if you’re on PTO or vacation, we’ve been instructed not to respond to email. It’s setting a bad example.”
Josh also believes that “Ultimately, we as human beings have to deal with this overwhelm, the organization can only do so much. The company can’t stop Apple from announcing another product that gives us more information.”
The good news is that regardless of your company’s policy, you can start simplifying your own behavior immediately. Here are three tips I’ve found helpful in letting go of the overwhelm:
1. Let it go. (just like that annoying Disney theme song from Frozen)
Notice when you’re creating unnecessary work or sending emails at odd times. Resist the urge to hit “send” until normal working hours. This takes incredible self-discipline in the beginning.
One helpful practice can be to institute a twenty four hour email detox that starts Friday at sundown. This means you don’t check email from Friday night until Saturday night. If this seems difficult or nearly impossible…that could be a sign you’re overdue for a technology detox.
From a leadership perspective, creating a policy that encourages employees not to respond to email on nights or weekends is a great first step.
2. One screen at a time.
Focus on one task and one screen at a time. Shut down all other browsers, don’t look at Bloomberg while checking emails and drafting a note. Task density leads to a sense of overwhelm, the solution is to eliminate multi-tasking.
Share the research within your organization on the downside of multi-tasking to create a culture that supports simplicity.
3. Get still.
Meditation is another great tool to help focus, calm the mind and stay present amidst the overwhelm. Leaders are realizing mindfulness is a powerful tool to improve employee wellbeing that costs very little to implement.
Try this 30 Day Meditation Challenge for free. It’s just five minutes a day. Big change starts with small steps.
This article was written by Vanessa Loder from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.