A vast number of employees cite their workloads as “unmanageable”. Many struggle to keep up with the rigorous pace and demands—and that pressure negatively affects mental health and performance.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Often, the reason why so many employees struggle to balance their workload is because they simply haven’t learned how to do so.
We get taught how to do our job, but not how to approach it in a healthy, sustainable, and ultimately enjoyable way. If you think your employees manage their workloads in a less-than-efficient way and need some support, this guide provides practical insight into accomplishing a more balanced workflow.
Workload management is the key to happier employees
Teaching employees better workload management strategies can have a domino effect on the workplace. Not only does it bring the obvious advantage of improved productivity and workflow, but it also helps employees to feel more relaxed, in control, and motivated.
If we take a closer look at the benefits of implementing workload management strategies, these are some of the things we might find:
Feeling overwhelmed by your workload can make you feel fatigued and stressed. But when you’re in control of your workflow, it enhances your sense of well-being and can keep your spirits high.
Greater job fulfilment
Employees that feel on top of their work schedules are more likely to feel fulfilled within their role.
Well-balanced employees generally have better moods and higher energy levels, making them better team players and more open to collaboration.
Better customer service
When employees are happy and content with their workflow, they tend to deal with problems much more efficiently. This positively impacts customer service and improves the way consumers engage with the company.
Contributes to positive company culture
All in all, a manageable workload contributes to a more cohesive, comfortable, and positive work environment.
More manageable workflows are not only beneficial for the individual experiences of employees but for the overarching work environment as a whole. It makes life easier for everyone and enables people to do more with the hours they have.
How to help employees manage their workloads
Workload management isn’t a skill that you can just download from the cloud. It takes years of practice to develop. But utilising strategies like these can speed up the learning process and deliver faster results for employees who are on a tight schedule.
The following strategies all serve to stimulate better self-discipline, foresight, and planning skills for the sake of easier task management and organisation.
Place boundaries around distractions
We’re all a little (or a lot) guilty of getting distracted during work hours. Smartphones and social media apps are perhaps the biggest culprits of this corporate crime. They’re enticing and engaging and grab our attention quickly, giving us a hit of dopamine that’s hard to resist.
However, allowing distractions like these free reign over your workday is one of the fastest routes anyone can take towards losing control of it.
Knowing this, it is crucial that workplaces enforce boundaries around the amount of time people spend on leisure distractions. If employees manage their workloads by setting timers on their apps, you’re creating a manageable solution to an unsolvable problem. You can also allocate periods of the day to indulge in a bit of casual scrolling. This still allows for employees to have some freedom, but puts solid boundaries in place at the same time.
Without strict boundaries in place, distractions like these can derail productivity and hinder workflow. Healthy boundaries help us flourish.
Set realistic productivity goals
The more realistic your productivity goals are, the more likely employees are to achieve them. You’re not de-incentivising productivity by adjusting workload goals, you’re simply bringing their natural dopamine hits a little closer to the foreground.
Realistic productivity goals are important for a number of reasons.
Firstly, they’re fair!
Of course, the goals you set for employee productivity should be realistically achievable. Anything beyond that is only going to increase stress levels and foster a culture of anxiety—both of which are well-known productivity killers.
Secondly, realistic productivity goals boost employee confidence and make it easier for them to feel capable within their role. So, while it might feel counterproductive to expect a little less from employees, lowering the stakes by just a little bit can enhance productivity and achievements.
Break projects down into smaller chunks
Big, complex projects can sometimes feel too overwhelming to start. However, by breaking them down into more manageable chunks, productivity can come more naturally.
There are a few systems and strategies already developed for this purpose. The Pomodoro technique, for example, involves working for just 25 minutes at a time, followed by short five-minute breaks. This creates structure in a way that ensures tasks get completed but also allows for breaks in between to prevent any chance of burnout.
Regularly meet and plan as a team
Sometimes, the thing that’s holding employees back from managing the workload is the fact that they’re too isolated. Tasks pile up when you’re working on your own, which is why team collaboration and communication are so important for workplace productivity.
Regularly meeting up with your employees and any other relevant members of the team to discuss upcoming projects and assign roles is one of the best ways to distribute big workloads.
These kinds of meetups can put employees’ minds at ease. It prepares them for tackling difficult tasks and makes it easier for them to share the workload in a clear and even way.
We tend to see a lot of hype around multitasking in the media right now. And while learning how to juggle multiple tasks at once can certainly be an asset in the right context, it’s not necessary for people to multitask all the time. In fact, sometimes it can do more harm than good.
Unless you already have strong multitasking abilities, trying to do five different things at once can just feel stressful, and can lead to a lower-quality work output.
Instead of encouraging employees to balance a million things at once, encourage them to put 100% of their focus and attention on one task at a time. This will help improve their concentration skills and make it easier for them to chronologically work through big tasks.
If there is a dire need for multitasking skills in your particular organisation, go the extra mile and provide your employees with training for it. This ensures that employees manage their workloads in a way that’s educated and informed.
Cluster activity around related work
When you’re working on a variety of different projects and different clients, it can be hard to think straight. Your mind has to switch gears between different concepts and ideas. This can often lead to jumbled work outputs that don’t make sense in the end.
Clustering activity around related work helps employees focus on the project at hand and ensure a more seamless flow of productivity.
Recognise the most productive hours
Everyone is unique. We all have different minds, habits, skills, and capacities for productivity. As such, the way employees manage their workloads will differ. We often have different times of the day in which we reach peak productivity. Many people say that they are most productive in the early morning, but this is not the case for everyone.
Teach employees about the importance of identifying which parts of the day they feel most energised, and encourage them to allocate their most important tasks for that time slot.
This approach not only helps you draw out the best work possible from each employee throughout the day, but it also demonstrates trust and faith in their ability to take charge of their workload. Offering employees a little bit of independence can inspire them to do better.
Assist employees with time-tracking software
There’s a reason why time-tracking software has become so incredibly popular in recent years. Actually, there are several. Time clocks not only help remote and hourly-paid workers to keep track of what’s owed to them, but it also makes workload management much more efficient.
When you know exactly how much time you are spending on each task or project, it becomes a lot easier to coordinate your day and ration concentration more evenly.
Time-tracking software also supports a number of other strategies on this list, such as the Pomodoro technique, clustering related tasks, and placing boundaries around distractions.
Overall, it’s a simple way to empower workflow and productivity schedules.
Create a strong stress-management system
Burnout due to overburdened employees can sometimes feel unavoidable. Times get tough, bottlenecks develop, and people get pushed to their limits.
But while stress is a reality in every workplace, letting it run amok doesn’t have to be. Setting up a system that actively identifies and supports employees who feel burned out is crucial for developing a company that produces consistently high quality work.
Make sure your employees have access to mental and physical health support, so that they are better equipped to deal with the natural ups and downs of life. Set up strong health benefits and policies to help your hard-working employees feel and perform their best throughout the year.
Empower their strengths
It’s much easier to perform at your best when you know what your best looks like. You can empower your employees to reach their full productivity potential by identifying their strengths and encouraging them to nurture them.
You can achieve this in a number of ways. You can host a strength-finders workshop, hold social meetings in which to share praises about team members’ best attributes, and generally provide feedback on the production of good work.
What person doesn’t want to hear about their strengths? It can help employees manage their workloads with the confidence they need to tackle their jobs with more enthusiasm.
Work flexibility is one of the most desirable facets of a modern workplace. Ever since the pandemic, people realised how much more comfortable and productive they felt at home as opposed to the office, and many have not wanted to return since.
Offering workplace flexibility may not be possible for every company, but if it is for yours, you may well want to consider it. Flexibility empowers employees to approach their workloads in a more personally tailored way, often allowing for increased productivity and comfort.
Ask for feedback from your employees
And finally, one more thing that is crucial for any company seeking to help employees better manage their workloads: ask them what they need and then act on their feedback.
Often, corporations get lost in statistics and corporate suggestions instead of going straight to the source. Ask employees what they feel would help them feel more productive and in control of their workloads. The results may surprise you!
Sustainable workload management is essential for a thriving workplace. From improving the moods and attitudes of employees to fostering a more profitable bottom line, there are a wealth of reasons for implementing strategies for better task management.
With these strategies, you can equip individual employees and entire teams to tackle their projects with more clarity and structure. In doing so, you’ll promote better productivity and independence.
About the Author
Karen Bradford is an editor with a passion for the written word, usually covering topics around productivity and employee engagement. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing puzzle games or challenging herself in an Escape Room.