Maintaining high performance while adhering to deadlines can be tricky, with incoming emails and queries adding further pressure to keep things balanced throughout the day. If your employees are unable to manage their workload effectively, they may encounter stress or poor job satisfaction, which can have a detrimental impact on their ability to perform.
In a study conducted by the CIPD, work-life balance was highlighted as a major factor in perceived job quality amongst UK employees, with many admitting their job caused disruption to family life when finding it difficult to ‘switch off’.
Unsurprisingly, overwhelming your employees is counterproductive in the long term, and this is supported by evidence from the CIPD. Their research shows that high work intensity creates stress and exhaustion, which are only likely to limit productivity and drive people away from your organisation.
To ensure that workplace culture remains healthy and supportive, it is important that HR is able to recognise any instances where employees may be under excessive pressure. Poor concentration and tiredness are key signs to look out for, along with anxiety or panic attacks in more extreme situations.
We have compiled some practical guidance below to help your employees balance their workload and avoid procrastination.
Daily planning and effective time management
Time management is essential for ensuring that workload remains balanced, allowing pending tasks to be handled in a structured and productive manner. Encouraging your employees to keep a ‘To Do’ list will help them to plan their day by providing a clear outline of what needs to be actioned.
Although many will keep a ‘To Do’ list already, this does not guarantee that they are using it effectively. For example, if an individual has written a lengthy list of tasks to complete, they may feel unsure about where and how to start.
When writing a ‘To Do’ list, it is useful to record tasks in order of priority, with any ‘need’ or ‘should’ tasks placed higher in the list. Once all tasks have been recorded, the list can then be broken down into smaller components, meaning workload appears more manageable and achievable.
Encouraging effective task planning will help to give your employees a sense of direction, while allowing them to devote a complete focus towards their goals. Being fully present and avoiding distractions is key for producing great quality work, so the ability to make this possible in your organisation is a major advantage.
Another factor to consider is productivity and energy levels during different periods of the day. Some individuals may feel more productive in the morning, meaning tasks that require concentration or creativity are better completed at this time.
Although managers cannot guarantee that this happens for everyone, it is useful to share guidance on time management with employees so they can implement it in their own way.
Less procrastination, more productivity
For many of us, simply getting started on an important task is the hardest part, with the rest flowing much easier once this initial hurdle has been overcome.
To ensure that procrastination is minimised in your organisation, it is important that any potential workplace distractions are managed, whether this be at home or in the office.
One way to achieve this is by restricting messages or diverting calls during a specific period of the day. When appropriate, encouraging your employees to utilise their ‘Do Not Disturb’ function will allow for greater concentration on key tasks, providing there is a sufficient process in place to log or divert any missed calls.
Alternatively, if you operate in a busy or open plan office, it is useful to allow employees to book spaces such as meeting rooms or quiet areas when needed. Again, this means distractions can be avoided for a specific period, allowing full concentration to be devoted towards the task at hand.
Are you taking a break?
Ensuring that your employees are taking sufficient breaks from work is vital for their health, as everyone needs time to rest and recharge, even if it’s a particularly busy day.
Unless we take time away from the screen or workstation, it is difficult for our brains to process everything that has been going on during the day.
By encouraging your employees to utilise their breaks, you are more likely to see improvements in their ability to concentrate and produce high quality work. This could be as simple as going on a short walk at lunchtime, with fresh air and exercise helping to refresh the mind before returning to tasks.
The importance of eating a healthy lunch should also not be overlooked, with choice of food having a significant impact on energy levels and the ability to function optimally.
Creating a safe space
While the guidance outlined above should help your employees to balance their workload, there is no guarantee that exhaustion will be eradicated completely.
When experiencing these feelings, it is crucial that employees feel comfortable enough to raise them with someone else, as this prevents the feelings from escalating further.
Introducing an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a great way to ensure that your employees have access to personal support when they need it. Knowing that confidential advice is available can help with managing workload and the side effects of a busy schedule.
As providers of Personal Development training, we also recommend engaging your employees in our session for Resilience and Wellbeing. This course uses practical and theoretical learning to recommend techniques for managing pressure, giving employees the tools to overcome workplace challenges more effectively.
If you would like more information on these services, or direct advice on supporting your employees with workload management, call us today on 0345 076 2288 or complete the form below.