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Six Talent Development Program Tips to Help The “Overwhelmed Employee”


 In the 2014 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trend Report they discussed the growing challenge organizations face with the “overwhelmed employee”.  They note that an information explosion is creating a trend “hyper employment” and causing productivity losses, increased turnover and burnout.

What can be done? Here are six talent development tips for smart organizations to follow to help avoid the “overwhelmed employee”


The Deloitte study provides the following overview:

“An explosion of information is overwhelming workers, while smartphones, tablets, and other devices keep employees tethered to their jobs 24/7/365.

 Studies show that people check their mobile devices up to 150 times every day.

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”.

As a result of this information overload the following results are seen:

  • 57% of employee work interruptions are due to social media tools or standalone applications that are not integrated.
  • Nearly 6 out of 10 employees say that their organization is “weak when it comes to helping leaders manage difficult schedules and helping employees manage information flow”.
  • Studies report that people on average check their mobile devices 150 times per day
  • Employees report that as much as 41% of their time is wasted on things that offer little satisfaction and do not help them get work done.

There are a number of innovative and effective measures being taken Human Resource management in the talent development program space to address this overload. Here are seven of the best tips that are being done today.

Create Smaller, More Agile Teams

In the Deloitte study they cite research by Richard Hackman (a former professor at Harvard University and Yale University), that small teams outperform larger teams. 

This has led to the revolution around agile business models, daily scrums and more stand up meetings. Dr. Hackman provides a great example noting that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, created a “two pizza” rule. This rule states that all meetings should be small enough that two pizzas can feed everyone in the room.  

What is coming out of the agile model is the move to shorter more focused meetings.

Simplifying HR practices and employee systems

Human Resource management can provide strategic leadership in creating policies and practices that help simplify being at work. Some of these initiatives include:

  • Flexible schedules
  • Eliminating or sharply reducing the documentation requirements for such things such as performance appraisals and expense reports.
  • Simplifying HRIS so that employees can go to one location to find their information for benefits, payroll, etc.

Outsource or insource  non-core tasks. 
Studies have shown that a lot of time is spent on data collection, administration and other activities not deemed to be essential to the key responsibilities of the employee. HR needs to look deeply into how employees spend their time and strategically remove those activities that can be done elsewhere so that they can focus more time on value creation.

Change the 24/7/365 Culture

It will be difficult to create a work environment and culture that creates balance if all of the leaders are emailing everyone on evenings, weekends and holidays. Change needs to start at the top. Expectations should be set around such things as e-mail protocol (who to copy), e-mail send and delivery standards. How the leaders act will give validation to everyone else in the organization that it is not a badge of honor to be working all thru your vacation.

Create A Positive Work Environment

A major contributor to employees feeling overwhelmed is the constant interruptions, lack of privacy and noise pollution that is common in today’s open office workplace. HR needs to critically evaluate their space and look for ways to allow more quiet space. Other options include being more flexible on telecommuting and providing options where people can move around the workplace and be productive in various locations.

Make open time valuable

Open time to think, strategize and create is valuable in today’s knowledge economy. Employees need to strongly protect their open time from meetings and outside interference so that they can have the proper amount of uninterrupted time to think. To accomplish this, a culture needs to be nurtured where it is acceptable to decline a meeting invitation, where you door can stay shut and where meetings need to be agenda driven, shorter and less frequent.

The overwhelmed employee is going to be a continual talent development challenge for organizations but there are straight forward ways to address it.