Deloitte U: The overwhelmed employee

InsightaaS: Deloitte University Press is a source of deep, thought-provoking material on a wide range of technology and management issues. The site’s mandate is to publish “original articles, reports and periodicals…to draw upon research and experience from throughout our professional services organization, and that of coauthors in academia and business, to advance the conversation on a broad spectrum of topics of interest to executives and government leaders.”

In this post, four senior Deloitte staff members with experience in leader development, global human capital and HR transformation – drawn from the U.S., India, Netherlands and Japan – join forces to produce a detailed view of “the overwhelmed, hyper-connected employee.” They demonstrate that this is a growing problem, and urge employers to take action to improve “satisfaction, teamwork and productivity,” noting that business and HR leaders need to “find ways to make information easier to find, simplify processes and systems, keep teams small, and make sure leaders provide focus.” By combining a thorough research review and analysis with real-world success examples and practical “where companies can start” advice, authors Tom Hodson, Jeff Schwartz, Ardie van Berkel and Ian Winstrom Otten deliver a thoughtful perspective that has value for employers and employees alike.

An explosion of information is overwhelming workers, while smartphones, tablets, and other devices keep employees tethered to their jobs 24/7/365. The Atlantic recently termed this trend “hyper-employment,” noting that even the unemployed can suffer from it.1

Studies show that people check their mobile devices up to 150 times every day.2 Yet despite employees being always on and constantly connected, most companies have not figured out how to make information easy to find. In fact, nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of employees have told us they still cannot find the information they need within their company’s information systems.3

This constant and frenetic level of activity also costs money, perhaps $10 million a year for mid-size companies.4 According to one study, 57 percent of interruptions at work resulted from either social media tools or switching among disparate stand-alone applications.5

The true downside of this information overload is harder to measure. With everyone hyper-connected, the reality may be that employees have few opportunities to get away from their devices and spend time thinking and solving problems. And the problem is getting worse…

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