Avoiding Information Overload in the Workplace

Hands holding devicesSimply hearing the words “information overload” can be enough to cause anxiety in people today. As a culture, we’re faced with never-ending email chains, bottomless to-do lists, and a 24-hour news cycle that never seems to quit.

While information overload is largely attributed to the devices contained within our pockets, workplaces can threaten to add an excess of information to their employees on a daily basis. So, what exactly can HR professionals do to curtail information overload for employees?

Here are a few key things to consider:

Discourage Multitasking

Anyone who proudly claims that they’re good at multitasking is either a member of the two percent who actually can multitask correctly, or—more likely—fooling themselves. For the vast majority of people in today’s world, the brain can only handle focusing on one thing at a time. Yet, many HR professionals encourage multitasking as a way for employees to increase their productivity. In most cases, this will only lead to added stress and information overload.

Use Technology to Your Benefit

Technology has had a profound impact on how much information people are faced with each day, but it can also be harnessed and used to prevent information overload in the workplace. One way to do this is by implementing a content management system (CMS) or other software which can be utilized as a “mission command” by everyone in the organization. Tasks can be created, tracked, and delegated on the fly in real-time. This not only helps to prevent siloing and keeps people on task, it also ensures that no one is faced with information they don’t personally need to deal with.

Perform Monthly Reviews

The best technology must be matched with in-person meetings to help employees feel focused. Monthly status meetings are an excellent way to help focus goals. Perform an end-of-month overview with your employees to discuss what has been achieved, what is left to deal with, and clarify action steps. This process will look different depending upon the size and scope of your industry.

Information overload can easily overwhelm even the best of employees. While you can’t control what happens outside of work, you can prevent overload from happening at work. By starting to take steps such as these, you’ll be doing a huge service to your company, yourself, and your staff.