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How to prevent internal communication overload?

One of my clients asked how to make employees to read the large amount of news published on internal communication channels? During the conversation, we realized that employees experience communication overload, and this results in information being ignored. I call it “switching off”.

It can be conscious or unconscious, but the result is the same - the employee stops perceiving the information offered by the management as important. International studies also reveal that more and more company managers are faced with the phenomenon of employee information overload. Wishing to improve internal communication practices, the management shares more and more information, offers more and more new information channels, information storage places, which, it turns out, causes increased stress in employees and lowers the productivity level. Some time ago when the followers of the Linkedin page were asked whether they think there can be too much communication in the company, 79% admitted that it really can be too much. And I have to agree! As in many other things, there is strength in moderation and balance, but in the age of technology, when the possibilities of channels are increasing almost every day, this balance is very difficult to maintain.

What leads to communication overload?

  1. Information in corporate channels – as it should be in the age of technology, we "package" management messages in the intranet, internal social networks and platforms, mobile applications, and send in e-mails. If information is added to these channels every day, does the employee have time during the day to read, listen, watch? And if the "notification" mode is on, do we expect the employee to stop working and read what management has to say every time a new post is published?

  2. E-mail correspondence - during communication training, I hear more often about "overloaded" e-mails, which contain a huge number of tasks, requests, contextual messages, moreover, the e-mails are long and require time to go into them. The overload of e-mails creates tension in people also in the international work environment, because it is impossible to process the amount of the received information.

  3. Endless Meetings - Have you ever had the feeling that there are too many pointless meetings? Meetings as a mechanism for improving internal communication have long gained their popularity, but if employees are switching from one meeting to another and do not have time to complete their work within the working day, then obviously the use of this communication tool needs to be reviewed.

  4. Volume of document circulation – this is another aspect of communication overload. This is currently highlighted by work environment researchers in the context of the observed practices of companies using various "cloud" solutions. A tendency to chaos has been observed, because there is no one specific place where all the information needed for work is stored. The inability to control the latest version of the document, which causes misunderstandings and lowers the quality of work, is more often observed.

If the company wishes to avoid the overload of employee communication, the focus should not be on what the management needs to say, but what the employees need to hear!

How to reduce communication overload? I offer some solutions to help employees and themselves to normalize the communication flow and process in the company.

  1. Review the channels intended for the transfer of corporate information: is there no overlap of information in different channels? Should everyone use all channels? What are the most popular channels for employees? Turn off the unpopular ones.

  2. Control the amount of information that is not related to the performance of direct job duties: The management team may feel that everything is very important and therefore should be available to employees. However, the recommended corporate message intensity is one message per day. Moreover, it will only work if it is suitable for the specific group of employees you want to reach.

  3. Develop the communication rhythm (decide what type of information/communication, in which channels and with what regularity will be offered to employees).

  4. When writing messages for employees, make sure that they are made from the position: Why the employee should know this? What should they do with this information? Before publishing the message, think for whom it is more important - the management, who needs to tell it or the employees, who need to hear it? If we think about the employee's experience in internal communication, then the overload can be reduced very quickly.

  5. Review meeting organization practices. Officially limit meeting time in the organization. Organize meetings according to the GROW principle (goal, current situation, opportunities, next steps).

  6. Agree on guidelines for the use of e-mails. For example, one of the principles: before writing an e-mail, make sure that it is not more productive to simply call a colleague.


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