Information Overload Is Causing Illness and Costing Money, Experts Warn

Published December 05, 2011

| News Corp Australian Papers

The culture of modern business needs to change, with workers drowning under a deluge of emails and information, experts warned Monday.

Corporations are failing to help staff cope with the technological barrage, daily meetings and constant connection, leading to rising levels of stress and psychological illness and costing billions in lost productivity.

Psychologists and experts said the information glut is becoming a major issue for firms who are searching for realistic answers to the problem.

A recent report, commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems, found 40 percent of companies in Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the information glut, up from 34 percent two years ago.

The report also found 81 percent of companies surveyed now considered it important to manage data growth, up from 68 percent two years ago.

Dr. Ben Searle, senior lecturer of Psychology at Macquarie University, said information overload was now a major source of psychological illness in the workplace and is expected to become an increasing problem.

Common solutions offered by managers such as only checking emails at certain times during the day were difficult to implement and often did not work.

"These solutions won't work if your company doesn't embrace it," Searle said. "If a culture exists where a reply to an email is expected straight away, it will not work."

He said changes needed to be part of company policies handed down to workers from the top.

Most workers receive an average of 36 emails a day and huge volumes of other information. Add to this social media, instant messenger, daily meetings and the ever-present telephone plus the arrival of new technologies which employees are expected to embrace to stay ahead of the game.

Marc Peter, director of technology at LexisNexis which conducted an International Workplace Productivity study last year, said many employees are reaching "breaking point" with the amount of information they receive and there is a huge need for employers to step in and help.

Peter said most workers admit data overload is causing their quality of work to suffer, making them feel demoralized and looking for guidance from employers.

"There are two key drivers for information overload," he said. "A lot of the information is irrelevant for the person who is receiving it and the second one is there is an inability of systems and processes in organizations to manage information efficiently."

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http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/12/05/information-overload-is-causing-illness-and-costing-money-experts-warn/