Reduce Decision Fatigue with Workflow Automation

By Mike Raia | Published June 25, 2018

Focusing employees on higher value decisions can improve both productivity and the quality of employees’ work, freeing their time and brainpower for the decisions that really matter.


Each of us makes dozens of decisions every day, in many cases without even being aware we are doing so. Not all of those decisions are equal, though; you wouldn’t place the same weight on deciding where to go for lunch as you would on deciding whether to hire a candidate for an open position.

Finding ways to reduce the number of decisions employees need to make in the workplace can improve both productivity and the quality of employees’ work, freeing their time and brainpower for the decisions that really matter.

Decision Fatigue Reduces Effectiveness

“Decision fatigue” refers to the phenomenon that can occur when someone simply has too many decisions to make to be able to make any of them effectively. Put another way, being overwhelmed by the sheer number and scope of decisions you face could lead to making poor choices.

Sometimes, decisions are simple and don’t require deliberation. For example, having written policies and procedures in place for employees to follow often makes it easy to know how to handle or respond to a given situation. In other cases, employees need to use their own judgment or creativity in determining how to proceed or may need to involve other players in the decision-making process.

Then, of course, there’s always the risk of becoming overwhelmed and paralyzed when there are too many available options to choose from, a condition referred to as “decision paralysis.” When facing too many choices, people can agonize over making the “right” or “wrong” decision, spending more time and emotional energy than they should on low-consequence decisions while neglecting more important decisions that could have a meaningful impact on the business.

Ways to Address Decision Fatigue

One of the most effective ways of addressing and eliminating decision fatigue for your workforce is by eliminating the need for employees to make so many decisions. Removing choices or decisions from the discussion, implementing rules and decision trees, delegating decision-making, encouraging breaks and self-care, and leveraging automated workflows can all help improve workplace productivity.

Create and Implement Business Rules

If your employees are struggling to make decisions because the department lacks policy and procedure documents, or if existing documents are outdated or simply don’t reflect actual practice, that’s a relatively simple fix that can help increase productivity by spelling out how you expect staff to handle various situations.

When we don’t need to think about how to respond or proceed in a given situation, we are all more effective. Creating business rules, and implementing those rules, takes the guesswork out of the decision-making process.

Delegate Decision-Making to Employees

Managers and supervisors can easily become fatigued by the decisions they need to make every day; encouraging delegation can help ease the burden on department leaders while showing employees their opinions are valued and helping develop talent.

Encourage Self-Care

Encouraging employees to take periodic breaks from their work, get enough sleep, exercise, and take care of themselves can do more than make your workforce more productive; it can help reduce decision fatigue. When we work long hours without breaks or neglect our health, the effectiveness of everyday decisions is diminished.

This may not matter significantly for basic, rules-based decisions. However, burned-out employees who need to make judgment calls or participate in group decision-making may not be thinking clearly. As a result, bad decisions could have unforeseen (and unintended) consequences.

Implement and Use Workflow Automation

Workflow automation can help organizations in many ways. One of the goals of automating processes is to drastically reduce the number of simple decisions workers need to make, freeing them up for more productive and value-added work. When you implement automated workflows, you are pre-defining rules and procedures, so employees don’t need to spend time and energy thinking about what steps they need to take, who they need to contact, what information is needed, etc.

For example, you could opt to create an electronic form and process employees could use to submit travel expense reimbursement requests. You could define acceptable responses for certain drop-down menu answers, designate which fields must be completed before the form could be submitted, require that employees upload or attach receipts, and more. This helps employees know what information they need to provide to submit a request for reimbursement, without having to make independent decisions.

Automation takes the process a step further – further reducing the number and type of decisions employees need to take. You can define where completed expense reports are routed (such as to the employee’s immediate supervisor) for approval before being routed again up-line for another round of approvals or to the accounting department for payment. Employees wouldn’t need to try to determine where to send their completed forms; the system would have that information hard-coded already into the workflow.

Learn How Integrify Can Reduce Decision Fatigue in Every Department of Your Organization

Expense reports are just one example of many applications for automated workflow technology. The IT services, finance and accounting, legal and compliance, human resources, marketing, and sales departments can all create and implement customized workflows that can help reduce decision fatigue in your company.

To learn more or to request a free demo to see workflow automation in action, contact Integrify today.

Mike Raia

Marketing the world's best workflow automation software and drinking way too much coffee. Connect with me on LinkedIn at