Overloaded at Work: Should You Talk to Your Boss?

By Paula Santonocito

smw - overloaded at workYou’re inundated. The work keeps coming, and recently it’s begun to pile up. The only way you’ll complete every task on your to-do list is if you can clone yourself.

Alas, barring some scientific miracle, that’s not going to happen.

So, what are your alternatives?

There are really only two: You can continue trudging through the day-to-day like a good trooper, or you can say enough already.

How do you decide?

The Weight of Work

First, if you’re feeling overloaded at work it may help to know you’re not alone. Two recent surveys find many employees feel the same way.

A poll conducted by LifeCare Inc., a provider of specialty care services, finds the single biggest barrier to fulfilling job responsibilities isn’t child care issues, and it isn’t lack of clarity about job expectations. The top reason cited by employees is being overloaded, with not enough time to accomplish all tasks.

A survey conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, a company specializing in attitude research, also finds too much work is a problem for a lot of employees. And these are employees with longevity. More than one-fourth of surveyed workers with two to five years with an employer report being overworked.

What does this mean to you? It’s information to consider. People are working harder and longer these days.

Look at Your Circumstances

Nevertheless, it’s important to look at your individual situation, and to look at it objectively. Is the overload temporary? In other words, is there an end in sight? If so, you may want to wait it out.

But, if for the foreseeable future, you envision working day and night–night and day–it could be time to take back control.

Ask yourself: Do you feel the quality of your work and your life are suffering?

If the answer is a resounding yes, you owe it to yourself and your employer to speak up.

Why Waiting May Not Work

One reason is that your boss may not even know you’re overloaded. Indeed, experts say many managers aren’t aware when an employee is at the breaking point. Ironically, this is because people are working harder today and the pace of the workplace has become faster; it’s become business as usual to speed through the days.

In addition, your boss probably has a heavy workload herself, and it may be another factor in her inability to recognize your situation. (Whether this is right or wrong doesn’t matter; it is what it is.)

Quality Counts

The two key issues for you are quality of work and quality of life.

When it comes time to evaluate your job performance, the quality of your work weighs heavily in terms of salary increases, promotions, and even whether or not you remain with your current employer. Put another way: If the quality of your work is suffering because of overload, it will come back to haunt you.

The quality of your life obviously matters as well. If your personal relationships, your health, and/or your overall outlook are suffering, it’s time to take a look at the source. If that source is work overload, sit down with your boss and unload.

More SMW Career Advice

What’s the Best Way to Update My Resume

Evaluating Your Total Compensation Package

How Do I Broach the Topic of Working From Home