Don’t Tell Employees What They Don’t Need To Know

paper files stack of papers surprised

Here’s some communications’ advice: Keep everyone on a need-to-know basis, all the time.

Being bombarded with too much information isn’t just irritating, it undermines your ability to get things done.

Between email, text messages, instant messages, and good old fashioned phone calls, workers are bombarded with more information than ever before. Even when all of this communication is work-related, the sheer volume of it makes workers less productive, studies show.

Writing for HBR’s editors’ blog, Paul Hemp rounds up research on the effects of information overload, including a First Monday study of Intel employees that yielded these astonishing results:

  • The average Intel employee receives 50-100 work-related emails per day.
  • Workers were interrupted once every 3 minutes throughout their day.
  • Workers spent an average of 11 minutes working before switching tasks altogether.
  • Totalling the time wasted on unnecessary communications, the further time it took employees to reorient themselves to the task at hand, and the reduced mental capacity of overwhelmed workers, the researchers concluded that information overload cost Intel around $1 billion every year.

Your business probably isn’t losing quite that much. But before you send your employees that next email, ask yourself: how badly do they need to see this?