Avoid overworking your staff – here’s how

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Everyone handles life’s pressures differently, which is no exception at the workplace. Some job-related stress may be unavoidable, such as leading a meeting for the first time, pitching new ideas to a client, or handling a difficult customer. However, as an employer, you might unintentionally contribute to your employees’ stress by overworking them, resulting in low staff morale, poor performances, fatigue, and more serious health issues. 

Unfortunately, many companies overlook these telling signs and act surprised when workers perform poorly due to exhaustion. If you want to avoid burnout among your staff and create an overall happier work environment, here are some causes of employee burnout, how it will affect your business, as well as solutions to prevent or fix these problems. 

What causes overworking? 

There can be many causes of overworking, but here are some of the most common practices that burn out your human resources: 

1. Expecting employees to exceed the 9 to 5 

Having an overtime payment policy in place could ease your conscience, but when your employees work long, irregular hours for an excessive period, it will damage their health and the business. 

2. Creating a hostile work environment 

Being underpaid, having to endure long commutes, annoying co-workers, unapproachable managers, and unreasonable workloads can cause employee stress levels to rise. 

3. Lacking growth opportunities 

When you’re not implementing career-advancement opportunities, incentives, performance bonuses or promotions at your company, your staff will become increasingly worried and stressed about their current positions and their future at the company. 

4. Tipping the scales of the work-life balance 

Overloading your staff’s plates with work will force them to work overtime, leaving little or no time for family, holidays, or hobbies. Your employees will quickly notice that their lives are unbalanced, which will increase their unhappiness. 

How does overworked staff affect your business?  

Exhausting your staff can cause several serious issues for your company, such as: 

1. Productivity and work quality will decrease 

When your staff is overworked, their concentration isn’t what it’s supposed to be, which can lead to costly mistakes. Common examples are packing or shipping incorrect orders, deleting important files, frequent accidents while operating machinery, or an inability to serve clients professionally.  

2. Employee morale will plummet 

It’s no surprise that your staff’s morale will take a hit when they have to carry excessive workloads in a stressful environment. When the mood in the office is down, it will cause the tension to rise even higher. 

3. The company image will be diminished 

By rewarding overwork, you’ll likely create a culture of overwork. Personnel will feel inclined to put in more hours to cope with their workload, enabling them to earn more money. The overworking culture will become synonymous with your company and might cause issues when you’re recruiting new staff. 

4. Staff turnover will skyrocket  

A rise in your employee turnover rate, especially among your most talented and experienced members, is one of the most telling signs that your staff is unhappy, likely because they’re overworked, underpaid, and undervalued.  

5. Health issues will arise 

Stress is the root cause of many health issues. When your staff is stressed due to long work hours and unreasonable deadlines, their health will deteriorate. The most common symptoms are insomnia, anxiety, panic attacks, fatigue, excessive weight loss or gain, high blood pressure, or even heart diseases. You’ll start to notice this in an increased number of leave days taken, as well as in your staff’s appearance. 

Tried and tested solutions to combat overworking 

It’s vital to have proven strategies in place to avoid overworking your staff or to fixthe damage already done. 

1. Lead by example 

When you’re in a leading role and burn the midnight oil every week, your staff will feel pressured to follow suit. By creating an environment based on trust, transparency, and open communication, your staff will feel more comfortable approaching you when they feel overworked or need more time to complete tasks. As an empathetic and involved leader, you’ll also get a better understanding of staff morale and learn more about your employees’ daily struggles.  

2. Encourage a balanced lifestyle 

An unhealthy work-life balance negatively affects the overall wellbeing of your employees and your company’s growth. It’s crucial to spend enough time away from work, and as an employer, you can help improve your staff’s lifestyle, whether it be by implementing regular coffee breaks throughout the day and flexible hours to accommodate those commuting from different towns or encouraging them to take a day off or a long weekend now and then, and plan a proper holiday at least once a year. By respecting your employees’ need to have a work-life balance, they’ll automatically start respecting it themselves.  

3. Create a caring culture 

If it has become normal for your staff to work after hours, on public holidays and during the festive season, something needs to change. Start by introducing one-on-one meetings with each staff member to understand their needs, goals, and expectations. These meetings can be held at least twice a year. You can also introduce a suggestion box in which staff can leave anonymous suggestions that can be implemented.  

Encourage your staff to give their inputs and show them that they’re taken seriously. Even though changing your company culture from overworked to caring is a long-term project, you’ll also reap long-term rewards, as the work environment will become healthier, and your staff will feel valued and heard. 

4. Offer incentives 

Most companies with a culture of overworking don’t offer any perks apart from monthly salaries and leave days required by law, despite their employees overworking themselves constantly. A happy employee has high morale and is motivated to deliver high-quality work. You can boost your employees’ moods by offering benefits, like performance bonuses, travel and cell phone allowances, medical aid, and free health snacks (fruit) and quality coffee. If done strategically, the money spent will be recuperated through the efficiency and performance of your staff. 

Is a happy work environment possible? 

Meeting deadlines and keeping customers satisfied is as important as your employees’ well-being. Take a moment ─ assess your company’s current workplace culture and the workload your staff has to manage and weigh it up against your aimed culture and your business goals. If these don’t match, you need to make some changes to prevent your human resources from burning out and your business from suffering. 

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

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