Are You in Permanent Overdrive?

A new study finds that workers today may have too much to do and too little time to do it, and it might surprise you to learn that your boss probably knows it.

You probably feel overworked; most of us do. There are only so many hours in the day, and many of us find ourselves spending more and more of those hours at work or in home offices, finishing at home what we couldn''t get done at work.

Safety professionals especially seem to wear many hats, and many work at facilities that run 24 hours a day, meaning they get calls in the middle of the night, long after leaving work for the day.

It''s no surprise then, that a new study finds that workers today may have too much to do and too little time to do it. It might surprise you though to learn that your boss probably knows it.

Seventy percent of executives polled for the survey said the average employee is at least somewhat overburdened. One in 10 said the workload is significantly too heavy.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a leading staffing service specializing in highly skilled administrative professionals, and conducted by an independent research firm. The poll includes responses from 150 executives with the nation''s 1,000 largest companies.

Executives were asked, "Would you say the average employee has too much to do or too little to do in his or her job?" Ten percent said their employees had "significantly too much" to do. Sixty percent said employees had "somewhat too much" work. Less than a third (30 percent) said their employees had "just enough" work or "somewhat too little" work.

"Many people are more productive when they''re juggling multiple tasks, but the amount of work should be within reason," says Liz Hughes, executive director of OfficeTeam. "Project loads that are consistently unmanageable can lead to burnout and the associated problems of reduced morale, high turnover and increased hiring and training costs for businesses."

Hughes said the best managers do more than acknowledge their employees are stretched too thin; they offer solutions. She suggests the following:

  • Talk to staff. How do employees view their responsibilities? Are unrealistic deadlines impacting the quality of their work or level of job satisfaction? Their perceptions may be very different than yours.
  • Ask for activity reports. Review each employee''s tasks to determine which projects are taking the most time. Make sure the most critical initiatives are getting the majority of resources.
  • Reward smart work habits. Someone who is putting in long hours may be working hard, but is he or she also managing time wisely? Clarify your expectations with employees, and take steps to recognize teamwork, innovative ideas and problem-solving skills.
  • Get help. Bringing in temporary staff to assist during periods of peak activity or for special projects can alleviate some of the burden on full-time workers.
  • Keep your door open. Maintain an environment in which employees are not afraid to ask for help when workloads become too heavy. Be willing to reallocate resources as needed.

by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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