Keep it simple, stupid: how to combat the overwhelmed employee

Employees are increasingly overwhelmed at work and technology is shackling them to their desk. Here’s how to get the best from your employees without crushing their spirit.

Keep it simple stupid overwhelmed employee

‘You wanted the best, you got it.’ – KISS

When you hire people, you want their best all the time. Their work may not have the thrills of rock ‘n’ roll but you want them to perform. The problem is, even the best people will struggle if the business processes they use aren’t efficient.

Employees are increasingly overwhelmed at work and technology is shackling them to their desk. In fact, 65 percent of executives say that the overwhelmed employee is an urgent problem. Despite this, almost half say they aren’t prepared to deal with it.

So how do you get the best from your employees without crushing their spirit? Here are a few tips:

Cut the chaos

A needlessly complicated business is an ineffective one. An overwhelmed employee can spend so much time doing unnecessary admin that their innovation suffers. Strict processes will allow your business to run smoothly and avoid the complex nightmare of bureaucracy that prevents them doing their actual job. Make their life simpler by:

  • Eliminating rules – Remove all the rules that don’t work for your business. For example, if employees need two levels of approval on a project, see if you can get away with just one. When you remove these useless rules, you create more time for projects that can grow your business.
  • Reducing low value tasks – If your employees are not required at a meeting don’t make it mandatory that they attend. Also, avoid cc’ing them on emails they don’t need to read or reply to because it wastes precious time.
  • Decreasing reports – If a report takes more time to create than any project it outlines it doesn’t move your company forward. Think about the value of a large task before you assign it.

Eliminate bottlenecks

When you spend too much time micromanaging your employees you can burn yourself out. Even worse, you make your employees dependent on you and that will only serve to slow processes down. Remember that you hired them in the first place because they are competent and good at their job.

You have to trust your employees and delegate more tasks. When you do, you’ll find they’re more loyal, autonomous and trusting of your management style. Plus, it frees up time for you.

Keep it simple stupid overwhelmed employee

Create templates

The overwhelmed employee has too many things to do, but there are ways to reduce the time spent doing them. For tasks that are repeatable, such as drafting a report, you can ease the workload by having templates available.

For example, when employees make expense requests you can create a set form listing all the required information, such as cost, tax and item description. This means employees will make fewer mistakes and spend less time on their expense requests.

Recruit the right way

Recruiting is hard but there are many ways you can standardise the process to reduce stress and the onboarding workload. For instance, you can eliminate the need for individual training sessions for every new hire by creating training videos.

‘There are cost and time savings to be made in reusing content, compared to running the same live conferencing session multiple times,’ say David Dario Smith and Whit Andrews, analysts at Gardner Research.

Through using video as a training platform, you can train as many new employees as you like. Then it’s simply a matter of answering their questions after they’ve viewed the video. This reduction of work can save you vast amounts of time and money. Microsoft has recorded 569% ROI and spent $13.9m less since implementing eLearning; just imagine how it could improve your business.

Automate business processes

Did you know that reducing wasted admin time by an hour a week could save £690 per employee per year? While there are some jobs you can’t avoid, time-consuming processes that you can’t be without are prime candidates for automation.

With today’s technology you can automate almost any business process, including purchasing, accounting and recruitment onboarding.

When automating your business, there are certain best practices to follow:

  • Have automation goals – You need specific, results-based goals for what you want from automation, for example, to save time and money.
  • Automation training for employees – Automation is incredibly intuitive but you still need a human on hand to use the system in most instances. Training people up for this role is imperative.
  • Always have a human failsafe – Machines are fantastic, but they can fail. Always have a qualified person ready to step in if your automation doesn’t deliver.

Reduce stress (not profit) in the workplace

You should always strive to avoid having an overwhelmed employee. Happy staff don’t have unnecessary stresses that distract them from valuable work. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel every time you want to lighten your business load. Simple changes in processes throughout the business can make a huge difference, leaving both you and your employees with a better work-life balance.

Don’t let your business own you. Keep it simple, stupid.





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