The Dangers of Overworking: How To Avoid Employee Overload

As a business owner or manager, you may have experienced the frustration of an employee who wasn’t pulling their own weight. On the flip side, maybe you’ve had employees with the “hustle and grind” mentality — those who consistently come in early, stay late, and cheerily volunteer to take on more than their fair share of work. While you no doubt appreciated their attitude and effort, the truth is that employee overload is a very real thing. Left unchecked, overworked employees can find themselves completely burned out or, even worse, experiencing negative consequences to their physical and mental health. 

In this article, we’re examining employee overload including the signs of overworking, how to prevent ending up with overworked employees, and what to do when you are overworking yourself. 

What is employee overload?

Employee overload occurs when workers simply have too much on their proverbial plates. If your staff or team members have more work to do than they can comfortably complete during normal business hours, it’s safe to say they’re overloaded. 

Employee overload can be especially tricky to manage in our modern-day work culture. On one side, managers are continually being asked to do more with less, which equates to heavier workloads for themselves and their employees. On the other hand, workers are often hesitant to speak up about overload for a couple of reasons:

They don’t want to be seen as lazy or pegged as the “weak link” who’s not pulling their weight. The pervasive “24/7 hustle” mentality has convinced them that if they’re not working or accessible to management during evenings, weekends, and holidays, then they’re simply not working hard enough.

Despite our collective fixation on always being in work mode, there are very real dangers of overworking that managers and employees need to be aware of. 

What are the dangers of overworking?

The most immediate consequence of overworking is a spike in stress levels, which in turn can put overworked employees at a heightened risk of a number of negative physical and mental health issues. These include: 

Insomnia
It seems counterintuitive that overworked employees would have trouble getting to sleep. After all, the longer you work, the more tired you should be, right? While that’s logically sound, the truth is that chronic overworkers often struggle to get to sleep even when they are exhausted. This is because they can’t mentally shut off work and will continue to think about everything they did — and everything they didn’t get to — during the work day. 

This can quickly lead to a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation that results in decreased concentration, increased oversights, and delayed reaction times. 

Heart disease
Research has shown a direct link between overworking and coronary health problems. In fact, a study published in the European Heart Journal found that employees who worked three to four extra hours per day were at a 60% higher risk of heart problems compared to their peers who did not work overtime. Type 2 diabetes
Another study looked at the connection between chronic overworking and type 2 diabetes. The research did show correlation between working 55 or more hours per week and incidents of type 2 diabetes, although only in workers from low socioeconomic status groups.  How to tell if your employees are overloaded

While some employees will be able to manage

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