Do you feel as if you work constantly, but are never able to complete all your tasks? Outside of the office, do you find yourself always responding to business-related emails, working on projects, and worrying about what is coming next?
Your situation is not unique: the issue of overworked employees is a problem that many companies worldwide face more and more frequently. Among many negative effects of constant work are employee dissatisfaction, detriments to health, and loss in productivity. How can you and your company address these effects?
What Causes Overworking?
There are many factors that contribute to a workplace where employees feel the need to overwork. According to the Sloan Work and Family Research Network at Boston College, several causes include: lack of support from other colleagues, blurred boundaries between work life and personal life, and a global economy that never sleeps.
Another important factor for overworking is the growing presence of a “culture of busy.” A recent Fast Company article titled “Why You Need to Stop Bragging About How Busy You Are” cites Brigid Schulte’s observations of why overworking is so prevalent in the workforce today. Among several causes, Schulte notes that workplace cultures commonly reward employees who work all hours of the day and are “devoted” to their work – and little else.
How Can Overworking Limit You?
While it is important to work hard and be dedicated to what you do, overworking can push you too far. Some of the negative side effects on your personal and work life can include:
- Tolls on your mental health. The Sloan Work and Family Research Network cites high levels of stress, increased healthcare costs, and less emphasis on health and exercise as direct results of overworking. With this in mind, extreme amounts of extra hours on the job may not be worth their cost.
- Decline in your Executive Presence. When overworking causes burnout and exhaustion, it is directly related to your confidence, image, and presence in the workplace – in other words, your Executive Presence. The diligence, composure, and focus that developing Executive Presence requires can be limited by the strains of overwork.
- Limited productivity. Do you think that working constantly is making you more productive? Studies show that this simply is not true. A Psychology Today article notes that “busyness does not equal productivity” – in fact, the opposite is often true. When you have more anxiety and stress, you productivity declines.
How Can Overworking Limit Your Company?
Many of the harmful effects of overworking that affect individuals also influence the company as a whole.
- Organizational productivity. Just as an individual employee’s productivity may decline when he or she is overworked, the entire company’s output may not be as valuable when all employees are overworked.
- Employee retention and satisfaction. As we have discussed in a previous blog post, employee morale and wellbeing are critical components of employee retention. Dissatisfaction due to overworking may result in higher turnover – and higher costs for your company.
How Can You Prevent Overworking in Your Organization?
Luckily, it is possible to observe – and prevent – habits of overworking in your own company or organization. If you hold a leadership role in your company, take note of these tips – and watch your own levels of work as well.
- Watch your employees’ habits and behaviour. This useful infographic offers tell-tale signs of an overworked employee. Take note if your employees demonstrate anger or irritability, fatigue, poor memory, and other signs indicated here. If these are common occurrences, it may be time to intervene.
- Set a healthy precedent. Schulte notes that employees are “going to work how the boss works.” In other words, it’s up to you to set the tone in your office. Make an effort to go home on time on certain days – so others don’t always feel compelled to stay and work late.