If there’s too much work in many ways it’s a nice situation to be in but there are downsides of stress, a variety of risks and potential long-term impacts. If people have too much to do they often get into overwhelm, they feel its never ending, and they may resent having to work the extra hours all the time – especially if there’s no recognition for that. Continuously working extra hours impacts on health and wellbeing, relationships, motivation and engagement. Not to mention the impact on the quality of the output… can people really deliver every day all day?
As business owners and leaders we have a duty of care to ourselves, our colleagues and the business and that has to be reflected in our behaviour and expectations too.
- Is the staffing structure correct? Investing in people is a big thing, talk to your accountant, look at cash flow and forecasting. Can the business afford to hire more people or more resource? And also what’s the impact of not doing so?
- Is the work being done at the right time in the right way and by the right people? Or to put it another way are the processes and systems optimised so that people are working smartly? Yes, its something that I mention regularly but experience shows systems often don’t get reviewed and aren’t always scalable.
- Are people being supported? Do they feel obliged to do the work and what impact is there on their motivation? When was the last time you spoke to them about the volume of work, how long the situation would go on for, what you’re doing to mitigate it and ensuring people have the correct level of support. This is different conversation to one about the work being done.
- Sometimes people get into the habit, or they think that its important for them to be seen to working long hours week in week out. And actually you weren’t expecting them to but have got used them doing so. A different conversation. What’s going on for them, what’s their thinking and rationale to keep doing this level of work? Not always the easiest conversation but a very important one.
- And if its you who’s doing all of the above then why? What’s the long term impact/effect? What value is being added to the business? What are the longer term risks. Perhaps a third type of conversation to have with your mentor or coach.