Workload Effects on Employees

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Health Assured team

26 March 2021

Your employees work hard. Everyone around you works hard. People pulling their weight really gets a company to thrive.

But there’s a fine line, a balance, between working hard and working too hard. Between employees doing their job and being overworked.

And with stress, anxiety and depression costing around £35 billion a year to the economy, it’s important to understand the distinction.

Let’s look at how you can avoid overworking your employees so you can prevent any unnecessary absences.

What is an overworked employee?

If an employee is overworked, they’re taking on—or being given—too much work. An overworked employee, rather than putting in their best and bringing in results, is tired, stressed, and risking burnout.

An exhausted employee is also more prone to make mistakes, which is deadly in some environments. You have a duty of care for your employees and you can’t have an overworked employee putting everyone at risk of workplace accidents.

How to tell an employee has too much of a workload

Your employees will feel dread on the commute to the office. This is because, in their mind, they are about to face eight hours of stress.

Stress in the workplace means employees who are overworked will find it hard to come to you with this fact. There will be fear that an excessive workload is normal and they may think they’ll lose their jobs if they admit it’s becoming too much.

There are a few key signs that employees are feeling stressed and are being overworked. Here is a selection of them:

  • Missing family commitment
  • Staying late and working long hours
  • More emotional than usual
  • Drop in workload quality
  • Voluntary turnover increases.

What are the effects of heavy workloads on employees?

The effects of a heavy workload on employees are numerous and unpleasant. Unfortunately, sometimes companies expect too much from employees—whether this is due to understaffing, unrealistic targets, or a working culture that places onerous demands on people.

Regardless of the cause, the results of too much pressure at work on the employee are the same wherever they’re found:

  • Increased risk of physical illnesses: Strokes, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are all more likely due to overwork. This is because of a high incidence of metabolic syndrome
  • Possible substance issues: People who are overworked sometimes come to rely on alcohol or drugs to relax, which is a slippery slope to addiction
  • Malnutrition: An overworked employee simply might not have enough time to prepare food properly
  • Lack of sleep: Too much work, stress and pressure can cause disruption to sleep—and this just makes all of the above worse
  • Mental health issues: Stress, anxiety, depression and burnout are all far more likely

These are just some of the high workload effects on employees. Each one is serious and can spiral into even worse overworked symptoms if not addressed.

For example, employees with higher stress levels every day have an increased risk of heart attacks.

Overworked employee rights

The government recognises the mental health risks that face employees who are overworked, meaning, they have laws protecting them.

  • Legally, most employees shouldn’t have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. You may ask employees to opt-out of this but they can refuse. And you cannot be dismissed or treated adversely as a result.
  • The right to request flexible working. This can be denied, but employees will appreciate it if you work with them to figure out the best course of action
  • You should carry out a risk assessment—this includes stress and overwork

If an employee’s mental or physical health is suffering due to too much office work—or any other kind of work—encourage them to speak to their GP.

Stress, anxiety and depression are very serious issues, and they should make sure they’re getting all the help they need.

Get support with employee wellbeing with Health Assured

You may think a heavy workload at work is going to bring you a more productive workforce, but employee burnout and absences will hinder your progress. You need to support physical and mental wellbeing at work.

Create a healthy work environment and engage your team members by setting an example. One way you can do this is by having an Employee Assistance Programme, which improves wellbeing. Our EAP also comes with a wellbeing app, which employees can use whenever to access wellbeing resources.

If you need advice on how to manage a hostile employee through an EAP, call us today on 0844 891 0352

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