Dealing with the New Enemy of the Workplace

Written by KB Published in

Thought Leader Blog

The way information is processed and provided may have accelerated exponentially, but not the tools we use to manage it. Hence, employees have had to confront a problem with no clear solution so far: information overload. A recent LexisNexis survey shows that 73% of employees think search engines give them a treasure chest of information, but it doesn’t help them set work-related priorities. Worse, 91% of employees discard the information before they even read it. Obviously, employees are suffering from a serious case of information fatigue. The problem is that the same information they are discarding is quite possibly the content that will help them perform best at their jobs.

I often see this in my consultancy practice when talking with clients – we could have the best solution to a big problem, however, for many, the ability to create capacity to listen and digest is significantly compromised (often with fighting fires on a day to day basis). With so much information coming at us every moment, smart professionals need to learn a new skill and that is the ability to filter and make a conscious choice about where attention flows. Filtering today means making a choice between two or more options and by definition that means not doing, reading or understanding something. This ultimately triggers a fear of missing out which is what drives so many people to work harder and longer in an effort to get it all done. Unfortunately, as the rate of information exchange continues to get quicker, doing it all will be impossible.

The best way to approach this tsunami of information is to develop your own system, specific to your role and your company’s set of problems and practices that will help you make better choices about attention and focus. You can take a cue from the list of suggestions offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Learning Innovations Laboratory below. Why not experiment with a different strategy each week and see what works best for you? Consider which coping strategy you think will best suit you and your company:

1. Prioritizing
2. Multitasking
3. Satisficing
4. Refusing
5. Limiting
6. Queuing
7. Delegating
8. Shifting
9. Escaping
10. Altering
11. Filtering

Why not print out some posters and pop it up around the office as a visual trigger of how we can all make smarter choices and drive sustainable high performance?


As an Employee Engagement and Performance Expert, Kate Boorer works with organizations and individuals to maximize their employee engagement and motivation with a specific focus on building leadership capabilities and skills of those people managers who are responsible for managing the daily workplace experience.

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