Increasing Workload Weighs Heavily on Employee's Well-Being

workloadLayoffs and Restructurings Increase Employee Workloads

Since the Great Recession began, more and more companies are laying off and restructuring their employees in an effort to cut costs and increase profits. As a result, workers are being asked to step up and do more, for less or with less, and are starting to feel the strain of heavier workloads.

According to a recent survey of more than 800 individuals, conducted by the research team at virginiabusiness.com, "as many as 57 percent believe workloads have grown 'a lot." Linda Konstan, a human resources professional with 25 years of experience, says, "I've had to help business owners make tough decisions in the past two years to reorganize their firms, which often has led to layoffs. Many jobs have been restructured and/or consolidated to not only increase efficiencies and reduce redundancy, but also to save money."


Factors Contributing To Workload Increases

Then there's the ever-present fear that there might be another dip in the economy. This results in businesses being unwilling to hire, and resigns employees to accept the increased workload for now, because no one wants to lose their job in these tough times. Adding even more stress to the situation is the fact that we live in an immediate society where rapid turnarounds and tight deadlines drive the expanding global marketplace.


Increased Workloads Affect Everyone

So where does that leave everyone? Employees are getting tired, feel overworked and underappreciated, and are starting to show signs of stress, while employers are left to manage the stress of producing high quality work, with fewer resources and less money.

According to Rob Jager, president of Hedgehog Consulting, "I have seen many businesses refrain from hiring. There is a lot of fear out there about when is the right time to hire versus just increasing the workload on existing staff. Part of the fear is the amount of chatter concerning a second dip in the recovery process. They {business owners} went through layoffs and firing before (last year), didn't enjoy it, and are looking to minimize the likelihood of having to do it again."

Jager also notes "before (when the going was good), we may have been a little 'fat' before and don't need the quantity of people to do the work." While it is possible to do more with less and still maintain productivity, you also have to consider what the costs are in terms of employee retention, employee health and well-being and employee happiness. For example, you do not want to increase workloads and associated stresses in the workplace at the expense of employee morale, productivity, motivation, endurance or retention."


IT World Is Getting Crunched By Increased Workload

According to Computerworld's survey, "IT professionals who are pressed for higher productivity, pinched by fixed wages and very nearly ready to explode. Bonuses and benefits are way down, and workloads and work hours have increased. Meanwhile, salaries are stagnant (rising just a microscopic 0.7 % on average) and not surprisingly---satisfaction is on the wane."


Pharmacists Increased Workloads Dole Out Decreased Health

On the Research In Social & Administrative Pharmacy website (www.rsap.org), a new study provides evidence from the United Kingdom and the United States that community pharmacists' workloads have increased in recent years and that the findings suggest that: "although community pharmacists enjoy aspects of their new roles, their work environment has become increasingly pressurized, resulting in decreased job satisfaction. Additionally, this study found some evidence that increasing workloads resulted in decreased health and well-being."

There is a silver lining to this news about overloaded workers and employers. "It's a great way for business owners to review and improve processes and for employees to add skills, show what else they can handle, and grow with the company," says Konstan.

Jager adds, "it seems that most employees are putting up with it right now but if the economy suddenly surges, a lot of those employees will begin to investigate other options. Beware business owners! Now is a great time to reevaluate the workloads and make sure you are competitive (workload versus pay/quality).


What Workers and Employers Can Do

Workers need to try to remain flexible in these constantly changing work environments and should ask questions when a concern first arrives. Being informed about these changes in your workplace can help you better prepare for them.

Managers should focus on maintaining company culture and morale and working with what they have. Learn to prioritize workloads and projects and offset some of the work if you see employees becoming strained by hiring a part time or temporary employee. Also, communicate with your employees about what changes will be occurring in their workplace so that they do not feel stunned or caught off guard when those changes occur.



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