Tuesday, March 7th 2023

Bigger Workloads, Less Help

Empower Employees with Productivity

One important workplace psychological challenge for companies today is managing the fact that employees are facing increasing workloads with less help to complete their work. Historically low unemployment levels started this latest trend by making it difficult for companies to either find qualified people to hire or to retain existing employees. The covid pandemic made things even worse by making it even harder to find willing workers and making everyday business even tougher to conduct because of business process disruptions and supply chain challenges. Now with interest rates rising, inflation persistent, and growth slowing, companies in some sectors are beginning to lay off workers while keeping workplace productivity expectations the same.

The Impact

The psychological impacts of high employee stress levels, lower morale, and lower engagement levels due to heavy workloads without the resources to get their jobs done are significant. Studies have shown that high levels of stress can lead to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and a higher risk of burnout. Additionally, employees who are overworked and stressed out may have a harder time maintaining positive relationships with colleagues, which can further contribute to lower morale and engagement levels.

Understand the Problem

IO psychologists have several recommendations for HR teams to address these issues. One of the most important steps is to conduct a thorough analysis of the workloads of employees, and to identify areas where workloads can be reduced or where additional resources can be provided. This might involve re-evaluating current job responsibilities or duties, streamlining processes, or hiring additional staff. IO psychologists warn that while challenging employees to work hard and be efficient is a perfectly reasonable expectation, pushing employees too far will have the opposite effect of demotivating them, and putting them in a position where they feel they have no opportunity to succeed. Pushing employees to this level will lead to lower retention rates and absenteeism.

Empower Employees with Productivity

Another key recommendation from IO psychologists is to provide employees with regular opportunities for training and development. This can help to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge they need to effectively manage their workloads, as well as helping to boost morale and engagement levels. If the decision is made that raising headcount levels is not financially possible, or because of labor market tightness is not realistic, focusing on programs to raise productivity can alleviate stress by giving employees the sense that they will be able to get on top of workloads and meet expectations moving forward.

In addition to these recommendations, companies can also take steps to promote a healthy work-life balance for employees. This might include offering flexible work schedules, providing telecommuting options, or offering other forms of support such as on-site childcare or counselling services.

Statistics show that high stress and overwork in the workplace can have a negative impact on both employees and the company as a whole. A study by the American Psychological Association found that employees who reported high levels of stress were more likely to experience physical health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that burnout affects up to 25% of employees globally.

Feedback is Critical

One of the major challenges for HR teams in managing stress levels in their organisations is how to monitor what employees are feeling, and what the specific stressors are that are trending within the workforce. While engagement surveys can be beneficial in measuring long term trends, we are living in a real time world where waiting for a yearly study to be done and changes to be implemented is not effectivement HR management. Pulse surveys are convenient but often miss the true voice of the employee as people are reluctant to complain. Increasingly, HR teams are looking at automatically and continuously monitoring the employee experience with passive listening solutions to spot trends in the workplace in real time and bringing solutions to the workforce before problems become ingrained and employees decide to move on.

The challenge facing companies today with employees having bigger workloads but less help to complete their work is a significant one. It is important for companies to take steps to address this issue, such as conducting a thorough analysis of workloads, providing employees with regular opportunities for training and development, and promoting a healthy work-life balance. By taking these steps and continually getting feedback from employees on changes to the employee experience, companies can help to reduce stress levels among employees, boost morale and engagement levels, and ultimately improve overall productivity and performance.

The Employee Pulse
The First Newsletter Combing Workplace Psychology and HR Technology to Empower the Future of Work

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