The Business World is Transforming
  • By 2025 the worth of the Internet of Things will be $6.2 trillion.
  • The sharing economy will reach $330 billion by 2025.
  • For people starting their education, 65% will enter the workforce into jobs that don’t exist today.
  • The average tenure on the S&P 500 is dropping. Only 25% of the companies in 2012 will remain by 2023.
  • Automation and robotic usage will grow 2,000% from 2015-2030 amounting to $190 Billion market.
  • 86% of global CEO’s are championing digital transformation of their companies.
  • By 2025, half of world’s companies with revenues exceeding $1 billion will be headquartered in today’s emerging markets.
  • By 2018, the data created by the Internet of Things will reach 403 zettabytes a year.
  • By 2030 the population will be over 8 billion people and 50% of Global GDP growth will come 440 cities in emerging markets.
  • By 2030 more than 30% of workforce will be older than 55 in developed countries.

Is Decision Fatigue Sucking the Life from Your Employees?

Is Decision Fatigue Sucking the Life from Your Employees?
09/15/2017, Charles Zulanas , in Organizational Transformation

As presented in part 1 of decision-fatigue Could Decision-fatigue Be Bogging Your Customers Down?, giving consumers too many choices is not efficient for generating more sales and acquiring new customers. However, this is also the case for your employees.

Many people suffer from decision fatigue, including your employees. Choosing one option over another leaves most employees with too many decisions to determine which one is right. Combine work life with personal life and employees are drowning in a sea of decisions. With so many choices of conveniences and necessities, the options about how to live seem endless.

Decision-fatigue is a Physical State

In an increasingly commoditized world, your employees have more options than they can handle before they even get to work, at work, and after they leave work. Many people find themselves in a state of decision fatigue or paralysis, resulting in poor decisions in the workplace that could threaten the business’s success and profitability. The sheer number of daily decisions an employee has to make might also deplete their ability to use good judgement.¹

This mental fatigue is compounded because a majority of people (employees or not) in the United States are sleep deprived. According to Gallup, about 40% of the population receives 6 or less hours of sleep each night, (recommended values of 7 to 9 hours of sleep for adults).² According to CareerBuilder, nearly 3 in 5 workers feel they don’t get enough sleep, and 1 in 5 workers have called in sick to catch up on sleep.³ According to the Center for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is a public health problem because persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are likely to commit occupational errors and also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity.4


How can companies lead transformation with many sleep-deprived and decision-fatigued employees?


How can companies lead transformation with so many sleep-deprived and decision fatigued employees?  Make their decisions “no-brainers.”

Corporate Fear Inhibits Growth and Innovation

Every company wants their employees to make the right decisions without eyeing every detail of their work. This would be easier, timelier, and more beneficial for all parties involved. However, many companies worry that by not inspecting all work, the task will not be performed correctly; the employee may make a poor decision and lose the company business; or worse, the employee could put the company in the news for a scandal.

Driven by fear and lack of trust, many companies will go to extreme measures to monitor their employees. Nearly 80% of major companies now monitor employees’ use of e-mail, Internet, or phone according to the American Management Association, a sharp rise from 1997 when only 35% of companies kept tabs on their workers.5 The increase comes while the percentage of workers with access to office e-mail and Internet remained virtually unchanged since 1997. The study focused on 1,627 large and mid-sized firms among its members and clients which together employ over a quarter of the U.S. workforce. The financial sector — banks, brokerages, insurance and real estate — was the most vigilant, reporting that 92.1% of firms participate in some form of surveillance.6

Other companies have so many controls that employees need approvals for everything. Normally, in making any decision, employees have too many factors to consider; they need to look at how everything was done in the past; they need to benchmark, evaluate, and analyze the numbers to death, and then gain buy-in by everyone before acting for a period of time then reiterating the process after every week or two of progress.

While it may not be advised to abandon all types of surveillance and employee checks and balances, companies could make it easier for their employees to make the right decisions, even in ambiguous or new situations.

The “Weed Out” Management Style

I recently heard a story about an economics “weed-out” course with extreme demands and the professor’s underlying objective to fail as many students as possible. To make matters worse, a foreign instructor with a thick eastern European accent taught the required course for economics majors, and native English speakers could only understand about 60% of what she said. All in-class questions were met with belittling comments from the professor and no actual answer. All tests had concepts that were not presented before or after the test, and students were supposed to understand how to extrapolate what had previously taught. The average test grade was a dismal 41%.

Homework assignments and participation were also a large part of the final grade in this class. Students who did not enjoy or easily understand the course or the professor looked for shortcuts to figure out how to do the work.

One homework assignment was posted online with all of the correct answers. While it is a common practice to first check online, exact questions and answers aren’t typically posted verbatim. In this case many students who were struggling in the class copied the answers word for word and turned in the assignment; the professor immediately failed all of these students and Academic Dishonesty was posted in their records; a majority of those who received this punishment were international students. More than half of the students eventually failed the course regardless of being caught cheating or not, fulfilling its objective of weeding out those who apparently were not trying hard enough to pass the class…

This is an extreme example, but it clearly drives home the point that without well-defined directions, relevant information, and answered questions, employees, or in this case students, are doomed to fail.

Lead Your Employees Through Ambiguity

Good teaching practices are similar in many respects to best practices in managing a business. Ultimately the outcome should ensure everyone understands the directives being given and the manager is not performing the employees’ jobs. One proposed answer is to create a decision-making guide for the company, thereby simplifying decisions. Some companies use core values or guiding principles to allow employees to make decisions for the company.

Salesforce believes that their key to success is their V2MOM system of making decisions. Marc Benioff, one of Salesforce’s founders, describes how he came up with the approach when he had worked at Oracle and encountered problems: “What I yearned for at Oracle was clarity on our vision and the goals we wanted to achieve. As I started to manage my own divisions, I found that I personally lacked the tools to spell out what we needed to do and a simple a process to communicate it. The problem only increased as the teams that I was managing increased.”7

As Salesforce developed, this system of V2MOM emerged as a means of defining the decision-making process for each unit in the company, as Benioff stated, “V2MOM has been used to guide every decision at — from those we made in 1999, to the decisions we make today as the largest high-tech employer in San Francisco.”

The structure of V2MOM is as follows:8

1. VISION – What do you want?
2. VALUES – What’s important about it?
3. METHODS – How do you get it?
4. OBSTACLES – What might stand in the way?
5. MEASURES – How will you know when you have it?

This structure allows Salesforce employees to know the proposed end result of a project, and rather than just meeting expectations, exceeding expectations by assessing all factors of what may be wanted out of the project, even the ones not explicitly stated. Decision-making guides like this help Salesforce employees make decisions for the company and justify them later.  Salesforce knows their employees will make the right decisions for the company through this structure.


Even when customer-centric organizations craft the decision making process to be less taxing for their customers they miss the opportunity to incorporate employee decision making processes into their operational transformation. Employees may still be feeling their way in the dark unsure of their objectives, confused, lacking information, unable to execute their role with confidence. Enable them to make decisions by providing the tools needed to do their work, giving clear answers to their questions, and trusting that they want to make the right decisions for the company. Do this and you’ll make each decision a no-brainer.

In Part 3 of decision-fatigue, we will explore how companies use technology to simplify decision making throughout their organization. Read Part 1 of decision fatigue

2 Jones, J. (2013). In U.S., 40% Get Less Than Recommended Amount of Sleep. Retrieved August 30, 2017 from
3 CareerBuilder Press Room (2016). Sleep Deprivation Affects Majority of Workers, According to New CareerBuilder Survey. Retrieved August 30, 2017 from
4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2011) Insufficient Sleep Is a Public Health Problem. Retrieved August 30, 2017 from
5 Ribitsky, R. (2016). Active Monitoring of Employees Rises to 78%. ABC News. Retrieved August 16, 2017 from
6 Ribitsky, R. (2016). Active Monitoring of Employees Rises to 78%. ABC News. Retrieved August 16, 2017 from
7 Benioff, M. (2013). Marc Benioff: How to Create Alignment Within Your Company in Order to Succeed. Retrieved August 17, 2017 from
8 Benioff, M. (2013). Marc Benioff: How to Create Alignment Within Your Company in Order to Succeed. Retrieved August 17, 2017 from

Other articles in Operational Transformation

Increase Efficiency by Not Telling People What to Do
Process Visibility…Now You See It!
Taking the Leap from KPI’s to Balanced Scorecard
Procurement: The Ideal Candidate for Operational Transformation?

Charles Zulanas

Contributing Author

Chuck Zulanas is a 2017 graduate of Arizona State University with a Master’s degree in Construction Management. He has worked with the Performance Based Studies Research Group where he consulted with the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Neogard Corporation, the State of Utah, and ON Semiconductor. He has authored/co-authored 5 publications in his undergraduate and graduate coursework.


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