An Impossible Workload
Sure, your job can often weigh on you. But it should never be a bone-crushing, 10-ton megaweight!
Unfortunately, overwhelming workloads are an epidemic problem for American workers. In a 2004 survey by the Families and Work Institute, almost halfof U.S. workers reported that they experienced being overworked. And with a stagnant economy pushing employers to squeeze more and more productivity out of fewer and fewer employees, the situation is getting worse.
According to the same study, the consequences can be severe:
Hundreds of blunders: 20 percent of employees reporting high overwork levels say they make a lot of mistakes at work, versus none who experience low overwork levels.
Sick and tired: Overworked employees report a significantly higher rate of stress, depression, and general poor health.
Cranky colleagues: Excessive workloads undermine cohesion in the workplace. Highly overworked employees are more likely to report resentment towards co-workers (34 percent versus 12 percent for those reporting low overwork levels) and anger towards their bosses (39 percent versus 1 percent).
What to do if your workload’s become impossible
Unfortunately, there’s no law against being overworked...though you should check out these items in Fix My Job if you’re Not Getting Paid for Hours Worked; if you have No Sick Days or Not Enough Vacation; if you have Physically Demanding Work; or if you are being forced to work Overtime.
Here’s what you can do with that impossible workload:
- Talk to your co-workers: The guy or gal at the next cubicle, classroom, or cash register is likely facing the same workload problems you are. Get together with them, try to identify the problems and possible solutions, and strategize how to approach management about the issue.
- Discuss it with your boss: Your boss might not realize how stressed out you and your co-workers are. Let him or her know, in a nonconfrontational manner. Talking to your boss in a group, instead of one-on-one, will level the playing field and give you and your co-workers a better chance for a successful resolution. Also, you are typically protected against retaliation under U.S. labor law when acting together, but not if you try to address the issue on your own.
- Brainstorm about solutions – after all, a frazzled, overloaded workforce is not going to help a company’s bottom line in the long term. If your boss is reasonable, you might share this document from The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, which details the causes and dangers of workplace stress, and what organizations can do to ease the strain.
- Take care of yourself. Let’s be honest. In some jobs, you are not going to be able to convince your bosses to make the necessary changes. In that case, you have to do your best to maintain your own health and sanity. Psychology Today has some common-sense tips for stress reduction, and the folks at Mind Tools have comprehensive articles on Coping With Work Overload.
Article: “The Effects of a Heavy Workload on Employees” at eHOW Money
Advice column: “Heavy Workload at Work? See 10 Tips to Help You Deal With the Workload”from Catherine’s Career Corner
Advice column: “How to tell your boss to quit swamping you with too much work” from HubPages
White paper: “Overwork in America,” from Families and Work Institute