Overworked employees

Signs and Remedies for Overworked Employees

Signs and Remedies for Overworked Employees
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Talks about work-life balance and self-care have been consciously skirting the shores of our “don’t bother me; I’m working” islands. And though burnout is a known threat to productivity, high performers still make waves despite it. 

Business doesn’t rely on the “busyness” of teams but on the quality of the work done. So while there’s a lot to gain from keeping employees toiling away, these are just a few consequences of overindulging:

  • Inability to keep up with constantly inclining demand
  • Inefficient time to deliver an expected quality or standard of production
  • Little to no room for professional development
  • Dwindling of cultural engagement and workplace happiness 
  • High risk of attrition
  • Higher risk of tarnishing a company’s image 

For employees that are overworked, it takes swift action to correct the course before serious repercussions cause top talent to jump ship. 

Overworked by choice or precedent

Being expected to raise the bar and be your best is as much a personal goal as it is a professional goal, but going about it in a way that interferes with your physical or mental health can be an issue. By recognizing a clearly drawn line in the sand about where peak performance and overworking meet, professionals can better understand their limits.

Consider these differences between working hard and being overworked.

  • It’s ok to work extra shifts or long hours to get ahead.
  • It’s ok to invest your time in a job well done.
  • It’s ok to put more attention into a project you want to see complete.
  • It’s not ok to constantly feel you need to prove your worth.
  • It’s not ok to sacrifice recovery time for increased productivity.
  • It’s not ok to forfeit your well-being by rationalizing an overwhelming workplace culture.

All listicles regarding common signs of overworked employees have three major components. They start off on a surface level, then slowly creep deeper into our emotional and physical tendencies. The red flags are there, but they need to be recognized before any meaningful action can be done.

  1. There’s no catching up

Whether this is with professional responsibilities and work schedules or personal relationships and tending to your own needs at home, time is never on the side of employees who are overworked. There’s no good time to step away from the computer, put down the phone, or even think about taking a vacation because there’s always something that needs to be done. Finding an off-switch and disconnecting from a seemingly endless grind, even if momentarily, helps us regain control of our focus. 

  1. Passion and priorities are lost

Over-committing to too many projects at a time and spreading yourself too thin often leads to a decrease in drive and productivity. Even if the work culture is buzzing with enthusiasm and positivity, it’s hard to channel that zeal in the wake of your forever to-do list. When your headspace is overrun by any large number of tasks at once, small slip-ups and distractions become commonplace. Take a pause to remember what you’re doing all this hard work for, and let it soak in to reignite your will to continue on.

  1. A physical or emotional change

This is likely the final straw for most professionals and the most blaring red flag of being overworked. Migraines, insomnia, aches, and shakiness… By this point, your body is signaling that it’s folding under the weight of stress. Maybe your head isn’t throbbing because of an assignment close to completion but because a coworker’s once-endearing questions about your day are now an annoyance. When your attitude toward your work environment has shifted to discomfort and aggravation, it could be time to reevaluate what the underlying issue really is. Intervals of relaxation and recovery are necessary for regulating balance.

Helping overworked teams without micromanagement

Performance is important, but it isn’t everything. That’s why companies focused on employee longevity adapt their managerial approach to preventing burnout and promoting healthy resolutions. Knowing how to help without taking over or stifling creativity and problem-solving is the key to good leadership.

Micromanaging can be distastefully disguised as unburdening an employee, but on the reverse end, more often than not, it’s more detrimental than supportive. Though hands-on assistance is a game-changer for showing top-performing employees how something needs to be done, completely derailing someone’s process without care, even when only trying to help, has its consequences.

A team from Harvard Business Review conducted a study to gain insight into the perception and efficacy of hands-on assistance in the workplace. Through their research, they concluded that “if [leaders] pay careful attention to timing, articulate their helping role up front, and match the rhythm of their assistance to receivers’ needs,” then a significant impact can be made benefiting both parties.

Managers gain confidence about stepping in when they understand what is needed of both the project and the employee. Being able to pinpoint where and when guidance, assistance, or intervention is needed helps professionals on the receiving end regard the support for what it is. From helpful advice to feedback and even redirection, managers can boost morale, encourage independence, and strengthen the trust between teammates when lending a hand to ensure successful outcomes.

When being overworked takes its toll

Perhaps there is no help in sight from feelings of fatigue due to being overworked. If you’ve made an effort to recognize your limits, but they aren’t respected by upper management, or the role you’re in makes overbearing workloads unavoidable, it could be time for a career change.

Resilience doesn’t always mean coming back after being knocked down. It can sometimes mean knowing when it’s time to put yourself first. When that’s the case, be sure to strategize your next move so that you’re able to avoid similar circumstances down the line. There’s no need to go about a career change alone. Even if you’re simply interested in seeing what your options are, reaching out to a recruiter to discuss how your needs may be met elsewhere could help give you the insight to finalize your decision. Find your balance and a career path where you thrive.

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