The digital overload is overwhelming HR, internal comms, and employees alike

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Employees are facing a digital crisis overload all around the world. Between emails, texts, Slack, Teams, and the many SaaS platforms that are part of daily workflows, there are just too many touchpoints required to get the job done these days. It’s not only distracting for employees; it’s making the job of the human resources (HR) and internal communications (IC) professional even more difficult. 

Here’s why. Over the past few years, and especially with the rise of distributed work, these teams have felt pressure to be more communicative and transparent with their workforces, addressing social challenges, the preferences of a new workforce generation, and the rapid pace of change. However, with so many channels and platforms, it has become nearly impossible to understand exactly when, where, and how to reach employees – so HR and IC are forced to blast communications everywhere. Without the right tools and data, these campaigns can quickly become overloaded with information and noise, contributing to employees tuning out and feeling less engaged. It’s a vicious cycle.

Firstup recently surveyed nearly 2,000 HR and IC professionals across the U.S. and Europe—as well as more than 2,000 employees—to understand just how much this digital overload is contributing to workplace fatigue and leading to ineffective employee engagement campaigns. 

What did we find? Over 70% of HR and IC leaders recognize an increase in employee burnout and frequently discuss the corrosive impact of digital overload and the drain of workforce energy. While a majority (62%) believe great employee engagement can improve performance, retention, and loyalty across their workforce, many said they lack the tools for an effective employee engagement program.

Meanwhile, more than half of employees admitted to feeling overwhelmed when receiving too much communication through too many channels at work, and they admit to wasting 2.7 hours every working week dealing with the distractions of poorly executed corporate communications.

Let’s take a look at some of the additional key findings, which expose major disconnects that impact the effectiveness of employee engagement campaigns: 

The apps are growing like weeds

On average, HR and IC professionals say they use an average of 4.3 channels to contact employees. In the U.S., that number is even higher (5.3). 

Employees are simply bombarded. Adding to the distractions and complexity, a 2022 study by Okta included the staggering statistic that large firms—those with more than 2,000 employees—deploy 187 apps on average to drive productivity, including workforce communications software. Even in smaller businesses, the average figure is 89.

Insights to understand how employees feel

Additional checks and balances come in the form of feedback requests. However, more than three-quarters (76%) of all ICs—increasing to 83% in the UK and still more to 88% in the US—would like more workers to tell them how company comms make them feel.

Having real-time data on how employees engage with communications that recommend actions for optimal engagement would greatly benefit practitioners who don’t have visibility into how programs and campaigns are performing.

Culture and values in action
“We know we can only be a great place to shop if we’re first a great place to work. The Firstup intelligent communication platform enables our culture and values in action through a digital tool.”

A better way to manage the digital overload

HRs as a whole has some way to go to curb over-the-top comms. Nearly three-quarters (74%) admit their company has taken no measures to limit internal outreach, and 78% reveal there are no quotas set for emails sent to employees. Meanwhile, 70% are yet to implement an out-of-hours contact policy.

It’s overwhelming for everyone; however, it doesn’t have to be.  With the right tools, you can let an intelligent system orchestrate exactly the right time and channel to send communications.  

Connecting the employee experience ecosystem

Nearly half (46%) of US-based HR/ICs say their organization lacks the technology and tools needed to drive employee engagement across their business. In fact, this is a big barrier to a successful strategy, according to all of the professionals we polled.

Senior-level buy-in is another issue—as is collaboration. Just 29% of respondents overall state they join forces with the IT department to boost employee engagement, which explains why HR/ICs feel they haven’t yet got the right tools or data for the task.

Firstup recently introduced several platform enhancements designed to address these very issues, with real-time intelligence that helps fuel more meaningful employee engagement campaigns. To learn more, visit


This research was conducted on behalf of Firstup by Opinion Matters, in two parts, including a sample of 2040 Employees that work in companies with a minimum of 100 people across the UK and US, as well as a sample of 1780 HR/ Internal Comms professionals in the UK, USA, France, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland and the Nordics. The 2040 Employees were surveyed between 31.05.2022 – 08.06.2022, while the HR/ Internal Comms professionals between 31.05.2022 – 14.06.2022. Opinion Matters abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society and follows the MRS code of conduct which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

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