Workers at table


Today's workers are over-connected

A Boston Business Journal series

New England Managing Partner William K. Bacic on how always being connected to work can be exhausting.

Keep it simple

An employer’s perspective, as shared by William K. Bacic, New England managing partner, Deloitte LLP

Many of today’s workers are overwhelmed. Technological innovations designed to give individuals the ability to get away from the office have actually had the opposite effect.

One of the most popular articles Deloitte ever published was about "the overwhelmed employee" in a recent Global Human Capital Trends report. The question now is if organizations are doing anything to address this.

Now, more than ever, workers are constantly connected–whether through email, voicemail, or social media–there is no “off” switch. We check our phones hundreds of times a day, yet only one-seventh (14%) of our daily messages are critically important. On average, workers spend one-quarter of their day sifting through and responding to unimportant messages.

When constant connection is combined with packed calendars, increasingly complex and global corporate structures, more business travel, and complicated compliance requirements, it should come as no surprise that many workers are overwhelmed. As many leaders will tell you, over-extended workers can be bad for business. When employees feel overwhelmed, the organizational environment and culture are compromised; the quality of work can decrease and there may be notable reductions in innovation, creativity, and customer service.

While employees are overloaded, the good news is that it’s not too late to make a change. Just as Airbnb transformed the hotel industry and Uber revolutionized the ground transportation model, simplification is happening in the workforce. It’s important that business leaders begin to rethink their current model before their competitors do.

We can’t slow technological advances, so, as a manager, consider implementing simpler tools to aid overwhelmed employees. Challenge assumptions around how work gets done. Also, don’t overlook the role of leader development and culture in your organizations. Are your leaders effective in helping to create simplicity or are they part of the problem? How about your culture? Have you moved from measuring culture and engagement annually to a more frequent model?

Likewise, consider implementing a flexible working environment to reduce worker stress, which can bolster creativity and output. And, don’t underestimate the power of social interaction: research suggests that people are more productive, relaxed, and engaged when their conversations with peers aren’t always just focused on business.

Simplification may be one of the most important and underused tools in an organization’s arsenal to promote employee engagement and well-being. The opportunity can lie both in simplifying the work environment and in simplifying the work itself. I encourage leaders to put “simplification” on the agenda for 2016 and focus on individual, organizational, and work-specific programs that reduce complexity and help people focus on what really matters.

If you would like more information on simplifying work, please visit Deloitte’s Simplification of Work study, part of the 2015 Human Capital Trends Report.

Workers at a table

HR today requires a new playbook

Read the full Human Capital trends report to learn about leading in the new world of work.

Global organizations today navigate a “new world of work”—one that requires a dramatic change in strategies for leadership, talent, and human resources. More than 3,300 organizations from 106 countries contributed to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends 2015 survey, assessing the importance of specific talent challenges and their readiness to meet them.

Human capital trends

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