Beyond Productivity: 10 New Approaches to Help Employees Manage Their Workload

Maximizing productivity in the workplace requires a proactive approach to workload management. Here are 10 tips to help employees manage their workload.

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Beyond Productivity: 10 New Approaches to Help Employees Manage Their Workload

We set the bar pretty high these days when it comes to productivity. There’s an expectation for managers to maximize efficiency and productivity to stay competitive and meet customer needs. For employees, it can be a challenge to consistently live up to these expectations.

As such, workload management becomes a crucial factor in helping to meet company goals.

Why is workload management important?

Workload management is a strategic approach to planning and tracking work within an organization. It allows you to balance the demands based on company needs and individual capabilities.

Workload management can be challenging. If you assign too much work, employees can feel overwhelmed or burned out. If you assign too little work, employees can feel unchallenged or become bored. Either way, this can lead to quality and productivity losses.

Employee engagement is key to a productive workplace and it’s been a shockingly elusive goal for many companies. Only 15% of global employees and just over 1/3 of workers in the United States are actively engaged at work, according to Gallup.

Yet, when employees are inspired, companies realize a broad variety of benefits. For example, comparing companies with high engagement levels versus those with low engagement levels, top performing companies see:

  • 81% decrease in absentee rates
  • 18% less turnover in high-turnover organizations
  • 43% less turnover in low-turnover organizations
  • 28% decrease in shrinkage (theft)
  • 64% reduction in safety incidents
  • 41% decrease in quality defects
  • 10% increase in customer loyalty
  • 18% increase in productivity
  • 23% increase in profitability

When employees are actively engaged at work, every measure of performance improves.

Workload management helps provide the right amount of work to the right group of people to help improve employee productivity.

Only 15% of global employees and just over 1/3 of workers in the United States are actively engaged at work, according to Gallup.

How to help employees manage their workload and improve productivity

Managing workload effectively starts with how the workload is assigned and how managers interact with their teams. Managers trying to figure out how to increase productivity in the workplace should take the following proactive steps.

1. Spend more time planning

Take a cue from professional project managers. Before embarking on a project, they take stock of the project, determine the scope, and assess the available resources against other projects already in progress.

Then they break down tasks into segments and assign milestones, plus determine deliverables and deadlines.

Next, they look at the available resources to determine who is available, their skillset and whether they have the resources required. Only after this analysis do they determine whether timelines are feasible.

Be aware of task dependencies as well. Many projects have stages. It may not be possible to move from one stage to another until certain tasks are completed. This requires clearly defining projects, deadlines, and deliverables along with milestones as well as checking them against dependencies to arrive at an optimal workload.

Planning should also examine utilization rates to ensure your workload expectations are reasonable. Most project planners set the ideal utilization rate at 80% for even the highest performing employees to allow them room to handle other tasks.

2. Provide an equitable workload

Assign workloads equally with respect to the different skills and levels of responsibility associated with each employee. This works best when employees have the right job fit and align with company goals which starts with planning and resource management.

3. Ensure clear communication

Make sure everyone involved in a project is communicating clearly and feels comfortable in sharing how it’s going. The burden is on managers, team leads, and project managers to check in with their team regularly to assess, problem-solve, and reprioritize work if necessary.

4. Create transparent workflows

To help balance workloads and keep everything running smoothly, you also need to create a roadmap for workflow. While this can be formal or informal, team members need to know who is responsible for what and the appropriate approval chain.

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5. Allow flexibility

Permit flexibility on task prioritization and deadlines whenever possible. Rather than dictating which order tasks are done, let employees choose how they want to approach the job. When possible, collaborate to establish deadlines.

6. Help set priorities

While you want employees to have a say in how they work, you need to make sure the right tasks and projects are prioritized. Make sure team members know which things take precedence.

7. Make sure team members have the tools they need

Ensure team members have the right tools to get the job done efficiently. Slow computers, poor internet connections, and lack of access to data can undermine productivity and frustrate employees.

8. Create a positive workplace culture

One of the keys to productivity is creating a positive workplace culture that enables employees to do their best work. Culture drives engagement — either positively or negatively. The best culture rewards and celebrates performance and allows workers to ask for help without being punished.

Creating a positive workplace culture encourages team members to play an active role in how the job gets done, and that includes two-way feedback with the boss. If employees don’t feel comfortable discussing challenges or believe their opinions are not valued, it will be difficult to increase productivity.

9. Actively look for problems and help

Actively look for employees that are struggling. You may notice a deterioration in their performance or other warning signs of burnout. Three-quarters of employees admit they suffer from fatigue on occasion and when they do, their performance will suffer.

Signs of burnout include:

  • Lack of engagement with the team
  • Increased absenteeism
  • Higher sensitivity to feedback
  • Emotional, mental, or physical exhaustion
  • Seeming confused or overwhelmed by routine tasks

When you notice any of these warning signs, step in. Depending on the severity of the situation, you may need to reallocate workloads or help employees break down large projects into smaller tasks to help them move forward.

10. Avoid exhausting top performers

When certain team members perform at a higher level, it can be all too easy to give them the hardest tasks or layer on additional work. Not only can this exhaust your stars, but it may also prevent other employees from learning new skills and adding to your capacity.

Balance workloads, optimize performance

Failing to manage workloads well can impact morale, productivity, and output. Use these 10 tips to help employees balance workloads and optimize performance.

For more tips, tools, and resources to help your employees achieve, visit Workest by Zenefits.

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