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3 Signs You Need to Simplify Work for Your Employees

(Story by Henry Albrecht originally appeared in Business2Community)

Chances are, your employees are drowning in email, text, social media and other information every day. They’re overloaded by business processes run amok — and it’s not healthy for them or your business.

You’re not alone if your company’s work processes are too complicated (and too hard to communicate). A recent Bersin by Deloitte report found that more than 70 percent of organizations surveyed rated the need to simplify work as an important problem. What’s more, 74 percent of respondents rated their work environment as complex or highly complex.

Unsure if it’s time to simplify your work processes? Here are a few tell-tale signs — along with some simplifying hacks:

Email tsunami.

There’s no denying that email bogs down employees and their workflow. Employees receive hundreds of emails every week, yet 50 percent of those surveyed in theEMPLOYEEapp’s Mobile Trends in the Workplace survey said they still feel out of the loop. What’s more, 30 percent of respondents said they ignore emails from their employer.

How to fix it: Challenge employees to cut-down on their digital communication in favor of good old-fashioned face-to-face interaction.

Need convincing? This 2014 survey conducted by Cornerstone OnDemand found that 63 percent of employees surveyed prefer in-person collaboration. Use technology for tracking critical tasks, improvement insights, and team-building across sites — but don’t lose sight of physical and social needs for MBWA — managing by walking around.

Encourage employees to discuss subjects in person before they hit send. Take the lead, and set an example for employees — don’t barrage them with pointless administrative emails. Consider adopting policies to greatly reduce or stop emails on weekends and vacations to prevent undue stress.

Collaboration is crowded.

Collaboration is crucial. You want different teams to be able to work together to complete projects and achieve goals. But too many hands working on a project can over-complicate it. Processes becomes slower and longer, just like too many cooks in the kitchen make messy meals.

An October survey from Wrike revealed that 44 percent of employees believe they are receiving unclear accountability for tasks, something they consider a significant stressor at their company.

How to fix it: Assign the appropriate team to certain projects, and set clear responsibilities for each team member. Use DACI, RACI, or a similar decision model — and communicate it up-front to ensure buy-in later. Make sure everyone knows their role, and monitor progress to ensure they’re sticking to it.

Technology tools.

Technology makes life easier, and you want your employees to be ahead of the curve. Introducing new apps, software and other tech can be great for boosting productivity. But overloading employees with new technology actually does the opposite.

A November 2014 study by Accenture found that, among leaders surveyed, 55 percent battle information overload, while 52 percent said that keeping up with technology is a top challenge. In addition, the Cornerstone OnDemand survey found that 68 percent of U.S. employees surveyed are suffering from work overload — 16 percent of those employees feel the work overload is directly related to technology.

Consider this: The time it takes for employees to familiarize themselves with new technology may not be worth the potential gain.

How to fix it: The most widely used tech platforms — Google Maps and Youtube — only do one thing. Their simplicity is what makes them easy to use. And that’s why they work.

Simplify your tech by finding solutions that are drop-dead simple to use and that seamlessly integrate around business objectives. Use only those that are necessary to drive the basics: think sales, productivity, engagement, employee well-being and the insights needed to connect these — plus whatever uniquely drives your business success (safety? health? innovation?) — even if it means passing up on the latest gadgets and gizmos.

Work simplification unburdens employees, making them happier and more productive. Simplifying work will require you to rethink the traditional ways your employees do things and some of the most deep-rooted practices, but the results are worth it.