Employee Overload: The Harm & The Consequences
As a boss and/or business owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your employees are as happy as possible at all times. The productivity of the company rests on your shoulders; you have to delegate tasks, understand the staff you need to assist you, and deliver the results the business needs every time.
It’s safe to say that managing and overseeing a group of staff is… easier said than done. When you’re in charge of a group of individuals, it can be incredibly difficult to find a management strategy that is going to work for everyone. Some team members might do well with a stern hand; others will produce better results if you calmly smile and guide them through their working day. This diaspora of personalities can be tough to cope with, but most bosses manage to walk the fine line…
… right up until they don’t.
Here’s a hard truth: employees can deal with a lot of bad things from a boss. They can deal with you being too brusque, or not quite brusque enough, to suit their character. They can deal with bad moods; they can even cope with poor communication– though it should go without saying that you shouldn’t ever actively be trying to do any of these things! While there’s a lot that staff can handle, there’s one thing that you should never expect a member of your team to cope with: being overloaded.
How Are Employees Overloaded?
When you hire someone, you’re looking for someone with a suitable set of skills to fill a gap in your current business. So if you’re looking for someone who can help manage the IT hardware in the office, then you hire someone with a relevant background in practical computing. Any task you assign to this person that relates to fixing computers or installing networks is completely fine; that’s why you hired them, and that’s the job they should be able to complete.
In this instance, overloading becomes apparent if you start extending their remit. To begin with, it’s tempting to look for assistance on related subjects. So, you ask the IT tech guy for help in choosing a private cloud service, or you ask the HR manager if they can glance over your next recruitment ad. You focus on tasks that are close to the area of expertise you employed them for, so it seems harmless– but it really isn’t.
If you need help with specific business areas, then you shouldn’t be expecting your staff to be jacks-or-jills of all trades and be able to help. You IT guy who focuses on hardware has no reason to know anything about private cloud services; though dedicated companies like Tierpoint can help make the decision for you in a heartbeat. Similarly, your HR manager doesn’t really know much about your recruitment process; what you need is a recruitment specialist.
The moment you ask an employee to take on work, offer an opinion, or perform a task that is not specifically in their job description, you’re at risk of overloading them.
Why Is Overloading Bad For Employees?
Employees can quickly begin to feel that they are being taken advantage of– and frankly, they’re justified in that feeling. It’s one thing to ask for an occasional input outside of your employee’s remit, but it’s all too easy for this to become a habit. When you’re in the habit of constantly deferring to an employee for an opinion, that’s when you have a problem.
Not only are you expecting an employee to do the work they were actually hired for, but you’re now stacking more responsibilities and decisions onto their plate– yet you’re paying them the same wage. They are within their rights to feel that they are being taken advantage of; that they are being expected to bring more knowledge than befits their pay grade. And what’s more, they’re 100 percent right about that. If you rely on an employee for knowledge that is outside of their official job description, then you should either be paying them more, or hiring an actual specialist who can help you with the problems at hand.
What’s more, overloading an individual employee can be bad for your business as well.
How Is Overloading An Employee Bad For The Business?
If you, for example, ask the office manager for their opinion on mailing services, that’s fine– it’s likely to be something they know quite a lot about, and directly relates to the job that they do.
If you then ask the same office manager for their opinions on your latest marketing campaign, then that’s a problem. You overload them, which — as discussed — is bad. However, when asked a direct question by their boss, most employees will do the absolute best to answer it. The office manager will voice their opinion on your marketing campaign and, because you trust them enough to solicit their opinion, you’ll listen to it.
This is bad for your business because, frankly, there’s every chance they have no idea what they’re talking about. They are giving their opinion because you’ve asked for it, but it’s no more of an informed opinion than just asking a random person on the street for their thoughts.
So… Overloading Is Bad For Both The Employee and The Business?
When you hire employees, you hire them for a specific task. Let them do that task; let them shine in the area where they have a true expertise. If you find yourself needing help on other subjects, then consider hiring someone new or at least outsourcing to specialist agencies. The last thing you want is to make a valued employee feel that they are being taken advantage of, and the last thing your business needs is uneducated input on an important subject.
By ensuring your employees are only tasked with decisions that they are able to make, you help to keep them happy, and you protect your business for the future.