How To Tell Your Boss You Are Overworked

Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz

Professional Human Resources (PHR) Certified

It’s not uncommon for employees today to wear different hats in their organization or feel like they have a lot on their plate. Attempts at efficiency in many organizations have resulted in less people doing more work.

While many of us can expect our jobs to have periods of high volume and periods of low volume, what do you do when you feel like you can’t catch a break?

Employees who constantly feel overworked are at risk of burning out or not providing quality results. Instead of suffering in silence, it’s important to know how to tell your boss how you feel.

Don’t Complain

Constantly telling your boss and announcing to your colleagues that you’re “so busy” or “don’t have time” to take something on isn’t helpful behavior to anyone. Running around your office like a chicken with your head cut off will only have your boss and colleagues shaking their heads or shrugging their shoulders. They may just assume this is the kind of person you are – one who publicly complains about the state of their workload but doesn’t do anything about it.

Telling anyone in the breakroom who will listen just how busy you are compared to your colleagues is only going to aggravate those you work with.

If you really want your boss to understand how overworked you feel, you need to sit down and have a conversation with him/her that doesn’t involve you complaining about your job or your colleagues.

If you’re taking on more work than peers at your same level, approach that subject without throwing anyone else under the bus.

We’ve all worked with people who do the bare minimum, so it’s probably not going to be surprising to your boss that you’re feeling as if your abilities are being taken advantage of. Make sure you remind your boss that you want to be a team player and help the company achieve its goals, but you’re struggling to be able to keep up with the amount of work being handed to you.

Provide Examples

Things at work aren’t likely going to change if you just keep telling your boss you feel overworked. You need to show him/her what projects or tasks you have on your plate that keep you feeling as if you’re just treading water.

While you don’t want your co-workers to become angry with you or distrust you for drawing attention to any workload disparities, it may be helpful for your boss to visual the duties and projects assigned to you as opposed to others at your level.

It may also be effective to keep a journal or log of your day for a week or two so your boss has better insight as to the challenges you’re facing. If you’re constantly being interrupted to assist others, always working through lunch, coming in early and staying late, etc., your boss may be quicker to realize that you’re working as hard as you can. Seeing how dedicated you are to your work will have your boss more willing to work with you to re-delegate certain tasks or projects.

Come Up With Solutions

Just acknowledging that there is an issue is only a fraction of what it takes to lessen your burden at work. Many supervisors will often feel overwhelmed themselves if their employees are coming to them with concerns over their workload. It’s not uncommon for a supervisor to be unsure how to help you.

Before you sit down with your boss, look at what’s assigned to you and what the processes are. Sometimes we have certain tasks or projects assigned to us that are really not as efficient as they could be. The more work you have assigned to you with inefficient processes, the more likely you’re going to feel overburdened or overworked.

Determine if you can personally make any recommendations with how to streamline some of the work you’re being given. If you have a report due monthly, discuss with your boss how it’s utilized and how many people rely on it. Ask if the team would consider receiving the report every two months or even quarterly. Many times we don’t change how we’re doing things because no one steps up and asks that we do.

Possible solutions might also involve some of your co-workers. If you have a strong professional relationship with members of your team, they might understand your plight. Perhaps you know of a colleague who is looking for more experience with a certain task or hoping to lead a project. You might be able to get your supervisor’s blessing to recruit other staff to help with some of your workload.

It doesn’t help anyone if you decide to quietly shoulder the burden. Constantly feeling overworked in our jobs will just leave us feeling dissatisfied and unappreciated. Take it upon yourself to approach your boss professionally so both you, and the company, can reach their goals.

About The Author

Robin Schwartz
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Robin Schwartz

Robin Schwartz is a PHR certified HR professional with a broad range of expertise including recruitment, performance management, employee relations and talent management. She leverages her years of experience in HR to bring functional change to organizational leadership and direction to management structures and employees. Robin aims to empower the employees and managers she works with by providing coaching and counseling services.

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