In recent discussions with leaders in various countries, I realized once again how important it is to bring awareness to collaborative overload. Hence, sharing this HBR article on the topic. According to the research, in most cases, 20 to 35% of value-added collaborations come from only 3% to 5% of employees. This eye-opening statistic underscores how a critical few often are relied upon to deliver a disproportionate amount of value.

And this “escalating citizenship,” as the University of Oklahoma professor Mark Bolino calls it, only further fuels the demands placed on top collaborators. We find that what starts as a virtuous cycle soon turns vicious. Soon helpful employees become institutional bottlenecks: Work doesn’t progress until they’ve weighed in. Worse, they are so overtaxed that they’re no longer personally effective. And more often than not, the volume and diversity of work they do to benefit others goes unnoticed,

Most organizations don’t know who is at greatest risk of overload. When i4cp asked professionals to identify the practices their organizations utilize to identify individuals who are experiencing overload or other collaboration issues, a significant number indicated they were not using any practices—including one-third (32%) of high- performance organizations and one-half (50%) of low-performance organizations.

According to the research shared in another HBR article on collaborative overload (, due to the low awareness of top collaborators and the understanding of collaborative overload, these top collaborators are often the most demanded but least engaged.

Knowledge workers typically spend 85% of their time in collaborative work in the past decade. The Covid-19 pandemic caused this figure to take another sharp upward tick, with people spending more time each week in shorter and more fragmented meetings, with voice and video call times doubling and IM traffic increasing by 65%. An increasing number of organizations are using tools such as Organizational Network Analysis (ONA) to understand collaborative patterns and design systemic interventions, alongside interventions that focus on individual values and awareness.

The authors share 3 key actions that emerged in their research
*The implementation of a “Free-Form Fridays” policy
*The initiation of more frequent pulse surveys focused on well–being and stress
*The development and deployment of “Ways of Working” training and tools for units with high levels of collaboration, stress, and negative mood

Looking forward to more interesting insights and fruitful collaboration on this topic:)