It’s only natural to want your business to be productive, but overworking your employees is not the answer. While there are some times when working overtime can’t be avoided, it’s best to make sure this is not a common occurrence.
Overworked employees are less productive because stress and fatigue accumulate over time. Plus, if people can’t get a break from work and don’t have time to unwind and relax, they’ll eventually become burnt out, which will eventually cause them to leave.
So, if you care about your team and want to create a pleasant workplace, you should learn to recognize the signs that your staff is overworked. Also, look for ways to support their efforts and encourage them during tough times.
Signs Your Employees are Overworked
The signs are not always the same, and they can look different from one person to another. But the most common indicator that your expectations are too high or that your team has too much on their hands is a decline in performance.
You should also look for people who spend more time than usual at work (to catch up) and people who call in sick or miss work more than usual. Plus, the overall atmosphere will be tense as people will be more irritated and emotional, which may lead to friction between employees.
Overall, the best way to know if your employees are feeling overwhelmed and overworked is to listen to them. If you often hear statements such as “I should bring in a sleeping bag because I practically live here,” it’s clear something doesn’t line up.
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5 Ways to Support Overworked Employees
Most people understand why they have to work overtime, and if it’s only a temporary situation, they’ll soldier through. However, it does help to see that you have the full support of your company.
The good news is that you can show your support even when the budget is tight, and things aren’t going exactly well. Here are a few ideas you can apply without much initial investment.
1. Provide Adequate Rewards for Their Efforts
People like to feel appreciated and validated, even if it’s just by praising their efforts in the company newsletter or offering a symbolic prize. Often, a well-designed employee recognition program can make the difference between people leaving for greener pastures and people staying to fight next to you.
2. Could Your Company Cover the Cost of a Part-Time Virtual Assistant?
One way to reduce the workload and help your team take a breather is by outsourcing some of the less important tasks to a virtual assistant. Plus, with platforms like Virtalent, you don’t have to invest time to do the research – you will be automatically paired with vetted virtual assistants that fit your needs.
Furthermore, a virtual assistant is not an employee. They are an independent contractor who will collaborate with your company for a predetermined period of time. This way, you can use their services only during the busy period.
3. Create Room for a Flexible Work Schedule
Working overtime is bad enough as it is, but if you add to the time spent commuting to and from work, the situation gets a lot grimmer. So, if the type of work allows it, try to integrate remote work into your business processes.
Luckily, current technologies make it a lot easier to transition to working remotely. Plus, there are various collaboration tools people can use to work as a team even when not in the same office.
If full-time remote work is not a viable solution, many companies implement a hybrid system where employees only spend one or two days a week at the office (for face-to-face meetings and socialization). The rest of the days, they work remotely.
4. Teach Them to Prioritize
Everyone feels overwhelmed and frustrated when their day is full, but there are still more tasks that need to be wedged in somehow. If this is the case in your company, create a priority system and teach your people to filter out the noise by ranking their tasks based on urgency (or other criteria). This way, it will be easier to cope with what often seems like a never-ending to-do list.
Of course, you should also ensure everyone has easy access to the tools and resources they need to do their job. Also, it helps to have one-on-one discussions with the members of your team in order to understand what led to this type of situation. More often than not, managers discover there’s a discrepancy between workers’ capabilities and management’s expectations.
5. Focus on Results & Encourage Work/Life Balance
Not every project is urgent, and not every request from an important customer must be dealt with right away. Show your employees that you respect their right to personal life as long as they produce the expected results.
When your people hit the initial targets and do their job right, don’t frown if they want to leave the office early or come in a little late. In most offices, a strict 9 to 5 work schedule is unnecessary if workers focus on their tasks. Some people are faster and more efficient, especially when they know they’ll be able to leave earlier.
If you’re in a line of work where a strict schedule is a must (like in a restaurant or retail), find other ways to support your stuff. One way to do so is by respecting their free time (no contact or requests during days off). Also, encourage communication between employees and make sure the break time is respected.
Busy times are often a good sign for businesses, but only if you make sure your employees are not overworked. And if they do have to work overtime, recognize their efforts and try to find ways to reduce their workload by outsourcing some of the tasks and accepting a flexible schedule.
If you know how to manage the situation, most of the employees will understand, and they’ll happily support your growth.