Work Overload in the Workplace
You feel overwhelmed? Do your work days seem too short to accomplish all your tasks? It is called work overload when the amount of work to be done exceeds what one is humanly capable of accomplishing in a given time. Since the load increases but time is short, we are forced to stay late in the office, accumulating overtime to overcome the disproportionate amount of work required.
In France, the 35-hour week is in effect (although it does not apply exactly everywhere). Employees must work a maximum of 10 hours with a daily rest period of at least 11 consecutive hours.
In 2016, the survey Workplace Matters , conducted by the CFDT with more than 200 000 people, found that slightly more than half of employees surveyed considers that an excessive amount of work. It appears that beyond 39 hours a week, it is more difficult to reconcile personal and professional life.
We spend an important part of our lives at work, so we must not neglect its impact on our health.
What is Work Overload?
A work overload is defined as a higher than normal load. It can have several causes and be temporary or permanent. The successive departure of several employees will increase the workload on the remaining employees while waiting for the recruitment of new employees. A new contract or a new project can significantly increase the work to be done.
The risks of Overwork
A company needs to adjust its workforce to meet its production or service delivery needs. Overwork can have adverse effects on the company and its employees. There are two types of risks involved:
- Individual: they affect the health and welfare of employees;
- Collective: they concern the quality of the service and the performance of the company.
In the case of excessive workload, the health and well-being of employees will deteriorate and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) will appear, especially when the body does not have sufficient recovery time. According to the Ministry of Labor, MSDs result from a combination of several risk factors:
- Biomechanical factors such as repetitiveness of gestures, excessive strain, postures and extreme joint angles, ergonomics of the workstation;
- Organizational factors , organizational and working environment;
- Psychosocial factors, that is, how employees perceive their work, such as lack of autonomy, monotony of tasks, lack of recognition or job insecurity.
The stress and pressure caused by an excessive workload also play a role in the development of MSDs.
How to Handle Work Overload
First, you must understand and find the origin of this work overload. It can be generated by an additional amount of work, but not necessarily. Sometimes an excessive work load is caused by mistakes you make, poor management of your time or an organizational problem. Discover the elements that are wasting your time and how to improve your productivity. If you are not responsible for your work overload, here are a few techniques to help you overcome it.
- List and Prioritize tasks
Take the time to list all your tasks, and then organize them in order of priority. The tasks that must appear at the top of your list are those that are both urgent and important. You can use the Eisenhower matrix to prioritize your tasks, or sort them with letters (from A which means “very important” to C for “not important”).
Keep all secondary tasks that are not directly related to your project or that can wait for later when you have set the priority tasks and you will be more available.
- Control your Emotions
Under stress and pressure, some people tend to panic and become overwhelmed by a wave of negative emotions, repeating “I’m not going to get there” or “I’m never going to get away with it.”
It is impossible to manage this kind of situation by being emotional or you may be making inattention mistakes. On the contrary, you must analyze the situation calmly in order to provide a thoughtful and adapted response.
- Mobilize your team
In the event of a work overload, your entire crew must be on deck. Inform your employees of the situation, if they have not already noticed it on their own. Each member of the team must know what to do. Everyone should leave secondary tasks aside and focus on urgent and important tasks. Those who complete their tasks more quickly must help their colleagues.
- Eliminate Unnecessary tasks
An excessive workload does not mean that all the tasks to be performed are very important or contribute to the progress of your project. Sort in your tasks and do not hesitate to eliminate those that are not necessary or that do not allow you to reach your objectives.
- Recruiting the Workforce
If, after analysis of the situation, you realize that this is not a problem related to the team or the organization, but rather to a lack of manpower, do not hesitate to recruit. Interim, self-employed or self-employed, use qualified outside personnel temporarily or permanently to alleviate your work and overcome the tasks and delays that are accumulating.
In the event of work overload, it is important to communicate and talk to your manager and co-workers for support and assistance. Do not isolate yourself and do not try to escape alone. Follow these 5 techniques to overcome the work overload you face and avoid deteriorating your health due to the pressure and stress generated by this difficult situation.