Determining the perfect size and mix of your workforce is no easy task! Many organizations, particularly small and medium sized ones, often lack the in-house expertise or the time to devote to a workforce study, creating job descriptions, and interviewing. Furthermore, companies often maintain they “can’t afford” additional staff.
Despite obstacles and roadblocks to workforce optimization or growth, it’s imperative that managers recognize the signs of an overloaded staff and react before the crisis reaches the breaking point!
So, what are the signs your staff is overloaded?
- The most obvious sign is employees are regularly working on the weekends or very late at night. While logging big hours might be necessary during the crunch time of an important project or deadline, regular 50-60+ hour weeks simply isn’t sustainable and a sure sign that a staff addition might be necessary.
- Another sign is an increase in lateness, sick days, or general absenteeism. When employees are pushed too hard their mental and physical health are negatively affected.
- An increase in emotional displays in the office is another sign of employee overload. When employees work non-stop with no times for breaks or meals, eventually someone will break down – cry, yell, or even quit. No valued employee should be pushed this hard.
- A deterioration in attitude and disorganization of work space. An overworked employee has no time to review and clean up their piles of paper or clean out their email and it becomes an overwhelming task, leaving the employee feeling they will never catch up.
- And lastly, a deterioration in work quality, quantity, or customer service. Overwork contributes to the quality of the work your people are performing and the way they’re handling your valuable customers.
Before you lose customers, your best employee, or have a workplace violence incident, pay attention to the signs of overload in your organization and act to improve the situation. In the short term, speak directly to employees, thank them, and let them know you recognize the extra work they’re doing. Schedule a special company bonding event or give staff a few extra vacation days or compensate employees for the extra work they’re doing – even the ones on salary. Longer-term, lay out plans to hire, re-train, or spread the work – and follow through! The extra work (and extra compensation expense) required to staff up will be more than offset by the positive gained from a highly productive and happy workforce focused on achieving your mission and goals.