I recently read a report by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) about Overwork in America.
The report shares some interesting information about the symptoms of overworked employees and states that “one-third of all US employees can be viewed as being chronically overworked.”
The article also gave some insights into how employees perceive being overworked and the consequences of overworked employees.
Factors that affect an employee being overworked are attributed to:
- the total number of hours the employee worked per week
- the employee working more hours than preferred
- the number of days a week the employee works
When I think of these factors, I think of employees I have managed that would agree that they would like more control over how many hours and the number of hours they work in a week.
I worked with a person some years ago who was clocking a consistent 50-55 hours a week in a six-day week.
I worked with him to try to adjust the number of days he worked down to five.
He asked “what’s the difference” to which I replied, “two days off”.
His workload required many hours but watching the toll on him from having only one day a week to refresh was difficult.
Employers should help employees deal with being overworked by monitoring their worked hours and paying attention to patterns of consistently high numbers of hours on the job.
The following are the sad consequences of employees being overworked:
- increased mistakes
- angry at employers for expecting so much from them
- resent coworkers who do not work as hard
- increased stress levels
- symptoms of clinical depression
- have poor health and neglect taking care of themselves
Employees also reported that having too many tasks with lots of interruptions affects an employee’s ability to “focus on the job” and have no time to reflect, regroup, or recharge contributed to the outcomes.
Life is demanding and employees today require flexibility in how they work.
This can be determined by where, when, and how they perform job duties.
Employers should design jobs and performance management systems around the needs of their workers.
For example, allowing a new mom to work from home during the first few years of their child’s life might allow that employee to balance the competing responsibilities of work and home.
This report is interesting because the demonstrated outcomes of an overworked workforce will naturally affect productivity, employee engagement, and product quality.
Employers should take heed and pay attention to and monitor employee tolerance when work becomes too much.