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Employees feel unprepared for pressure caused by heavier workloads

By Workplace Staff
| www.cos-mag.com

Seventy-nine percent of employees report that their workloads increased as a result of layoffs at their company and as many as 57 per cent believe workloads have grown “a lot,” according to a survey by Right Management, the talent and career management expert within Manpower.

“Employees are likely feeling the pressure of more streamlined operations, increasing demands, and tighter competition,” said Dr. Henryk Krajewski, vice president and national practice leader at Right Management in Canada.

Among key findings:

  • Employees at large organizations are under the greatest pressure, with 68 per cent saying their workloads have increased “a lot” compared to only 33 per cent at small organizations.

  • Younger vs. older workers are experiencing the greatest workload increases, with 60 per cent of workers 25-34 reporting their workloads have increased “a lot” followed by 59 per cent of those 18-24.

In terms of understanding the consequences of the results, Dr. Krajewski says, “…most employees, from all industries and company sizes, have been asked to step up and make a greater contribution. Without appropriate support from management, many will feel unprepared and ill equipped to handle more responsibility.”

Krajewski says management pay attention to these new realities. “Management must acknowledge increased workloads and commit to employee development and opportunity during tough times. For those who are being asked to step up, give them a sense of choice, and ownership in the direction moving forward to enhance satisfaction and commitment.  It’s been shown pretty clearly that firms that commit to these types of initiatives will be in a much stronger competitive position as the market improves.”

Krajewski advises workers to stay flexible during times of change, as well as to ask questions and get the direction and guidance they need.  At the same time, managers need to clarify expectations. “If the organization is operating in an environment where there isn’t any budget for additional resources, employees need to know up front. Don’t shy away from the reality. Be open and honest, but help to equip employees with the information and resources to manage their expanded responsibilities,” he notes.

Krajewski provides four tips to help employees handle increased workloads:

  1. Prioritize projects and tasks in alignment with your manager’s priorities.
  2. Clarify new expectations and your specific role in the organization’s success.
  3. Ask to develop new skills and capabilities
  4. Keep focused on business impact, evaluating all new responsibilities in the context of whether or not they will positively impact the business in the desired timeframe.

Any change that significantly impacts an employee’s workload needs to be carefully communicated, advises Krajewski. “Open communication will go a long way in ensuring all parties deliver on the new expectations. Expanded or new roles need to be outlined so employees know how they contribute to the success of the firm. Communication between managers and employees should be at heightened levels.”

Right Management surveyed 845 individuals via an online poll on LinkedIn® conducted between March 11 and March 30, 2010.

Right Management is the talent and career management expert within Manpower, the global leader in employment services.  For more information, visit

www.right.com/ca

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