Overcoming Overwhelmed Employees and the Impact on Productivity

It’s not surprising that companies face a wellness crisis due to overwhelmed employees. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, employees were already telling employers that they were exhausted. Not much has changed in two years. Employees are working longer hours. There’s an explosion of information. And mobile devices are continually reminding us to look at our notifications.

In one study, Deloitte, a management consulting firm, found that 70 percent of organizations believe work has become too complicated. From contributing factors like digital transformation, the flexibility to work anywhere, globalization, and sales demands, these trends drive leaders to push out more work and green-light more projects. Employees feel the pressure and are overwhelmed.

In our recent study on the impact working from home has on the workforce, 52% of managers are tired from working long hours. 


Download Report
Learn about other factors impacting your remote workforce.


You have overwhelmed employees. You’re probably one of them. The following are both evident and subtle causes of this chronic corporate and workforce health issue. 


Overwhelmed Employees and Causes to Investigate

How are projects prioritized? 

A lack of clarity—goals, priorities, and expectations—will undermine momentum, progress, and results. A set of company-wide disciplines that align company and team objectives, key results, and tactics down to the employee level helps focus on what is most important to the company, the team, and each employee. Leaders must develop the discipline of prioritizing projects and understanding the tension between progress and employee capacity to deliver results.


Do you have the right technology?

There is no shortage of technologies designed to help overwhelmed employees be more productive. However, there are downsides to too much tech in our lives. For example, finding work files that are stored in different systems can be a time-suck. 

The late economist Herbert Simon once said, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” Companies need to evaluate how a work hub, or virtual work platform, can help employees customize how they want to work, store documents, collaborate with colleagues, and brainstorm ideas. Giving employees choices to manage against the “poverty of attention” makes it easier for them to be productive no matter where they live and work.


The late economist Herbert Simon once said, “A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.”


Are your meetings productive, and do remote workers feel like they’re heard?

Men dominate 92 percent of conference calls. When people are frustrated because they have to fight to have a voice in meetings, morale takes a hit.

Meetings are already the bane of corporate life. Minimize their negative influence on productivity by teaching people how to organize and facilitate discussions that leave people feeling heard and included. Also, introducing collaboration technology creates a shared visual experience that helps teams work better together on deliverables. 


How do employees stay informed?

It is an unnecessary distraction not to know what is going on in the company. Intranets, blogs from executives, robust chat technology, video conferencing, weekly town halls, and productive meetings are practical solutions for keeping everyone informed. Remove the distraction of not knowing about critical decisions, achieved milestones, or customer success or flops. 


Do you grow your middle-managers’ leadership capabilities?

The most significant influence on employees’ experience of work is their immediate boss’s skills. Managers who are unaware of how their leadership style impacts their teams can set a negative tone. Consequently, the quality and tone of interactions and relationships with employees are negatively affected.  

Companies must invest in coaching and training managers to strengthen their soft skills: conflict management, giving feedback, coaching, for example.


Some solutions are easier to execute, like developing employees’ work skills or implementing various communication tactics. Others require more coordination across the company. The key is to pay attention to the indicators revealing what’s causing overwhelmed employees.


Get Infographic
See how digital sales transformation helps your salesforce feel less overwhelmed and close more deals.

Share this article

About the Author

Shawn Murphy
Director of Organizational Behavior, Bluescape
Shawn is our Director of Organizational Behavior and Workplace Trends. His second book, Work Tribes is out now. Shawn's first book, The Optimistic Workplace is out now. Inc. has listed him twice as one of the top leadership speakers in America.

Stay in the loop. Subscribe today!

Sign up for weekly email updates of our latest blog posts.