Feeling Like Your Workload Has Increased Lately? You're Not Alone

Most employees being asked to make greater contribution, but companies must communicate expectations and instill collaboration or risk alienating staff, Right Management advises

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Philadelphia — May 24, 2010 — Seventy-nine percent of employees report that their workloads increased as a result of layoffs at their company, and as many as 57 percent believe workloads have grown "a lot," according to a survey by Right Management, a talent and career management firm within employment services company Manpower.

The firm analyzed responses from more than 800 individuals throughout North America via an online poll conducted in partnership with LinkedIn, the professional networking site.

"Employees are likely feeling the pressure of more streamlined operations, increasing demands and tighter competition," said Deborah Schroeder-Saulnier, senior vice president for global solutions at Right Management. "Most employees, from all industries and company sizes, have been asked to step up and make a greater contribution. Without appropriate communication, many will feel unprepared and ill-equipped to handle more responsibility."

Among key findings of the survey:

  • Employees at large organizations feel the heat more, with 68 percent saying their workloads have increased "a lot," compared to only 33 percent at small organizations.
  • Younger workers are experiencing increased workloads the most, with 60 percent of workers 25-34 reporting their workloads have increased "a lot" followed by 59 percent of those 18-24.
  • Twenty-one percent of men believe their workloads "were about the same," compared to only 14 percent of women.

Schroeder-Saulnier advised that management must pay attention to the new realities. "Acknowledge increased workloads and instill a spirit of collaboration and opportunity during tough times," she said. "Encourage employees to build new skills. Look for solutions together. Giving employees ownership and engaging them in the discussion enhances satisfaction and commitment. This will put the firm in a much stronger competitive position as the market improves."

Schroeder-Saulnier advised workers to stay flexible during times of change, as well as to ask questions and get the direction and guidance they need. At the same time, managers need to clarify expectations.

"If the organization is operating in an environment where there isn't any budget for additional resources, employees need to know up front," she said. "Don't shy away from the reality. Be open and honest, but help to equip employees with the information and resources to manage their expanded responsibilities."

Schroeder-Saulnier provided four tips to help employees handle increased workloads:

  • Prioritize projects and tasks in alignment with your manager's priorities.
  • Clarify new expectations and your specific role in the organization's success.
  • Develop new skills and capabilities.
  • Keep focused on business impact, evaluating all new responsibilities in the context of whether or not they will positively impact the business in the desired timeframe.

Any change that significantly impacts an employee's workload needs to be carefully communicated, noted Schroeder-Saulnier. "Open communication will go a long way in ensuring all parties deliver on the new expectations. Expanded or new roles need to be outlined so employees know how they contribute to the success of the firm. Communication between managers and employees should be at heightened levels."

Right Management surveyed 845 individuals via an online poll on LinkedIn conducted between March 11 and March 30.