What is the cure?
Human beings are only capable of processing so much data. An uncontrollable flood of it overwhelms us, and we feel stressed. Our systems shut down, and our capacity take in new information and make good decisions is compromised – creating a real problem for businesses and its employees.
Two-thirds of business leaders cite ‘the overwhelmed employee’ as a top business challenge according to a Deloitte study, ‘Global Human Capital Trends 2014’.
The same study found that only one in ten companies feel equipped to deal with the overwhelmed employee. More than half (57 per cent) of HR professionals who responded to the Deloitte study rated their capability to help employees manage information and schedules as ‘weak’ and 39 per cent rated it ‘average’.
There are various solutions that can be used to mitigate infobesity – whether there is a ‘cure’ that can solve the issue altogether is debatable – but creating a culture of understanding will help to alleviate stress levels among workers.
• Talk about it. Broaching the subject of infobesity with employees is a good place to start. By explaining its symptoms and long term affects it may strike a chord with many people and help them to understand why they have been feeling stressed or overloaded. Once they recognize the problem they can find solutions to the problem.
• Boundaries within any situation make people feel safe and able to cope with their environment. Introducing a healthy email etiquette could help to alleviate infobesity, for example, not sending messages out of normal office hours will help both the sender and the recipient who will feel compelled to respond immediately. But also in the work place, do we need to send so many emails? Could some things be done face-to-face instead? Change the culture of emailing to reduce distractions.
• Technology free areas within the workplace where employees can enjoy proper breaks throughout the day with allow people to focus and reflect on their tasks for the rest of the working day, without constant distractions.
• Smart phone advice. Simple tips such as stop using your iPhone as an alarm clock, (which means that the phone is the first thing they see when they wake up, encouraging them to check work emails straight away) and turning off push notifications on emails, which pull people’s attention away from fun activities and remind them of work, are all good ways to highlight that they should be enjoying time away from work when they can.