Employees waste 1.5 days a week navigating workplace tools – that’s according to new data from HR tech giant Asana’s thinktank, the Work Innovation Lab.
They are unsure which tool to use for what, and where to find the information they need.
This fragmented tech stack (38% are grappling with four or more workplace collaboration and conferencing tools alone), and the resulting tech overload, is destroying efficiency at work.
This is a huge problem because other UK and US research from the Work Innovation Lab found that productivity is important to 99% of leaders (it ranks higher than revenue growth (92%)).
It is clear that an over-reliance on tools and tech for collaboration is having the opposite of the desired effect – rather than driving efficiencies, it is hindering productivity.
Speaking exclusively to UNLEASH, Dr Rebecca Hinds, head of the Work Innovation Lab, notes it’s clear that “the line between being connected and distracted is thin”.
“Workers are acutely aware that too many tools and processes are creating time drains, and they’re yearning for a reset.”
But the impact of tech overload is bigger than just inefficiencies – all of these tech tools are actually pushing people to burnout.
A survey of 4,500 employees in the UK and the US found that four in ten had a ‘high rate’ of burnout, while another survey of 3,000 British and American workers noted that 45% of feel overloaded and 40% are burnt out.
The worrying thing is that only a quarter of executives in the UK and the US actually acknowledge the burnout crisis going on in their organizations.
Is AI the answer to tech burnout?
It is clear that organizations need to take action to address escalating productivity and wellbeing crises.
Dr Hinds notes: “HR teams have a leading role to play” here.
They need to create “an open dialogue with employees about their current ways of working, and what is causing burnout or overwhelm”, and then they can act as a “conduit” to implement change in the organization.
“The good news is that there doesn’t have to be a trade-off between productivity and employee wellbeing,” adds Dr Hinds.
“Workers who are set up with the right tools – especially an effective work management platform that integrates with other purpose-built tools – and better ways of working will spend less time endlessly searching for information or navigating a maze or different platforms.”
For many organizations, they are latching onto AI and automation as a silver bullet that’ll solve these ongoing wellbeing and productivity challenges.
“As AI automates routine tasks, intelligently organizes data, and provides actionable insights, it reduces the need for multiple overlapping tools, which is a key driver of worker overwhelm,” Dr Hinds explains.
The Work Innovation Lab’s data shows that a third of workers think AI will help reduce the number of collaboration technologies they use at work.
But Dr Hinds warns: “It’s important that AI isn’t simply adopted without intention, or to an already oversaturated tech stack.”
Especially because Work Innovation Lab data shows that, “worryingly, just under a third of workers say their organization is well-prepared to employ AI tools”.
Transparency is top of mind for employees – 30% in the UK and 35% in the US want transparency over their company’s AI plans.
Currently, “there is a disconnect between employees and executives, as more leaders globally (44%) say they have been transparent, compared to individual contributors (25%)” – so there is work for HR leaders to do here.
They need to ensure that communication processes are actually transparent, and that they are “sourcing feedback from employees along the way”.
“Creating a transparent working culture, in the context of AI and more broadly, is crucial to addressing burnout,” concludes Dr Hinds.
“When you bring employees along on the journey, and they know what the goals they’re working towards and why, they’ll feel happier and more motivated at work.”
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