Working from home, odd working hours, extra work (or lack of work), lack of face-to-face communication – it all has a significant impact on our overall well being, productivity, and performance at work with many employees overworking.
We can expect our employees to exhibit signs of added stress or overworking during these odd times, but if they’re already exhausted from work, this heightened pressure may cause them to snap.
Signs of your employees are overworking
They are clocking a lot of extra hours
If you notice a trend of rising overtime, it might be the first sign you are demanding too much from your staff. That’s especially likely if overtime is usually not high, or if there is usually none at all.
Even if there’s no official overtime logged, something is not right if people need to take work home with them or if they are routinely staying at the office late. This is a classic sign of overworking.
Solution: You need to identify the reason behind these extra hours. Are you setting deadlines that are too short? Are people burnt out? Do you need to hire more employees for the job? Only once you’ve figured out the cause can you begin to deal with the effect.
They are stagnating
Ideally, every single employee would develop over time and become the best possible version of themselves, both within their respective role and in the general dynamic of the workplace.
If this is not the case, and you notice a general lack of improvement – i.e., people are doing the same things in the same amount of time, there are no new ideas and solutions being considered, and the atmosphere is becoming dull – chances are there is simply too much work to get done and your employees are already overworking.
Solution: Rework schedules and workloads so that every employee has time to upgrade their knowledge and skills on the job. Consider offering personalised training or courses to every single person, based on their needs and interests.
They are not sleeping enough
Sleep deprivation might be difficult to spot as a mere observer, but you can still diagnose it with a bit of focused attention. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Lack of sleep will affect decision making, so if you notice people making odd choices and not exactly keeping their eye on the ball, this might be the culprit.
- Sleep deprivation also saps creativity, so a dullness and sluggishness among your creatives will be another tell-tale sign.
- Irritability and a short fuse, as well as heightened emotions, are also some of the symptoms of sleep deprivation. So if your employees are snapping at each other and generally being short, it’s possible that they’re coming to work after a night of poor sleep.
- And of course, there are the physical signs – puffy eyes, dark circles and bags under the eyes, sallow skin, weight gain, and so on. However, these signs might be easier to hide, and they also might be attributed to other causes.
Solution: Your team needs to have enough time at their disposal to establish a grounded and beneficial work-life balance. If they are overworking, they may be staying up just to get all of their daily errands done and maintain a social life. You will, again, need to figure out the cause of these extra hours, and then you’ll have a better idea of how to eradicate them.
They are not making any suggestions
Happy employees are engaged employees. When your staff is satisfied, they will have time to think of new ideas, make suggestions on how to approach certain issues and how to take the business to the next level, and so on.
There’s also that level of employee dissatisfaction where people will come to you to complain, which is a clear sign that something is wrong. Only after this stage do they fall into complete apathy and stop coming to you at all – either to make suggestions or to complain.
Solution: Talk to your employees. Ask them about the good and the bad; ask them if they are overworking, let them always feel like they can come to you with their needs and solutions. Without their input, you won’t be able to either foster the right company culture or to grow your business in the direction you want.
When people start jumping ship fast, you clearly have a problem on your hands. It may not mean you’re overworking your staff, but there’s obviously something wrong that’s causing all of these people to leave.
If employees tend to stick around for very short periods of time (i.e., only a month or two), pull the emergency brake on hiring until you figure out where the dissatisfaction and the turnover is stemming from.
Solution: Look at the demands you’re making on your staff, both in terms of time, effort, and commitment. And also look at the rewards – are they being compensated well for everything you expect them to be doing? Don’t just think of compensation in monetary terms either – many of your valuable employees will be motivated by more than money.
Increased sick days
At some point, people might start calling in sick just because they really don’t feel like coming in for work. Or even worse, employee health might suffer as a result of overwhelming workload, stress from overworking, and general job dissatisfaction. So if you notice an increase in sick days, you need to take a very careful look at what is going on in your office.
Sure, there are times of the year when infections are more common, but if you have any reason to believe the conditions in your office and the results of overworking are damaging the health of your staff, you need to act immediately.
Solution: Talk to your staff to uncover all potential causes of stress. Examine how things are organized and delegated and how people communicate with each other. You can send out an anonymous questionnaire that will help you pinpoint the culprits.
If you have recognised your business in any of the above – act now, before it’s too late to stop your workforce overworking. Otherwise, you’ll likely end up with a bad rap that will prevent all talent wanting to work with you in the future.