When businesses struggle, workers suffer.
Whether it's staff shortages, increased demand, poor leadership, poor planning, or other conditions outside your control, it's important to ensure your workers are not overburdened or struggling with their tasks. Simple interventions at the right times can save your whole company millions in time, money, and effort. On the contrary, failing to address worker frustrations in a timely manner could mean the failure of your business operations--reduced efficiency, reduced quality, reduced morale, and reduced productivity.
And in the end, when workers fail, businesses fail.
Here are four signs you need to intervene and make a change, according to The Entrepreneur.
1. Reduced Workforce Efficiency
Identify areas where business is stalled and you may find an overburdened worker. With too much work to handle and falling weeks behind schedule, they stall operations.
For example, during a previous role, I wrote video scripts. The scripts were edited by the editor and passed onto the production team. I couldn't produce more scripts until each one was approved and passed onto production. Because the editor also had various other duties and was typically behind schedule, the production team and I often had to wait several days to receive the approval to resume work. This meant days' worth of lost productivity costs as well as reduced quality due to the editor's time constraints in editing each script.
Bringing in a new worker to break up such a bottleneck will immediately boost productivity.
Dave Berkus, author of Berkonomics, says, "That one person you hire will make 20 people more efficient if that person solves the problem at the point of constriction."
Moira Rose helps Stevie at the motel. Credit: Schitt's Creek.
2. Reduced Product Quality
If product quality or performance begin to degrade, or you're seeing more errors and accidents than usual, this may indicate that workers are being overstretched and filling in for roles they aren't qualified for.
For example, if you're so understaffed that your managers are having to step in and help workers with their daily roles, they may not be as adept as the workers who do the job daily. Worse, without adequate managerial oversight and direction, overall production and quality may begin to decline. Workers may begin taking shortcuts or overlooking procedures, leading to increased errors and accidents. Conversely, if you're having underqualified workers fill leadership positions you may experience a similar decline in quality.
If your assembler is also your packager and transportation and your IT guy and your lunch lady, chances are quality is suffering in at least one of these areas.
That being said, if you identify workers who are better suited for a different role or ready for a more advanced leadership position, invest in their growth and offer them a new opportunity.
3. Low Worker Morale
Image Source: Twitter.
Naturally, overburdened workers or workers stretched beyond their job duties may begin to lose enthusiasm for work. The stress of unachievable goals, the frustration of being underqualified or overqualified for a role, and the resentment of having to work a role they didn't apply for can quickly translate into high worker turnover. Low morale can become contagious, leading to tension and conflict between workers. The negative work environment and low job satisfaction result in increased worker turnover and reduced productivity.
To boost morale, show appreciation for your workers. Recognize their efforts, both formally and casually. Allow flex-time or give workers more control over their schedules. Listen to their concerns and reassure them that they're being heard and acted upon.
4. Decreased Worker Productivity
Make sure overburdened workers are not the cause of your declines in productivity. Past a certain point, additional working hours may be doing more harm than good for your company.
When shifts drag on or workers are consistently working over-time, they may be at higher risk of mental and physical fatigue, have less focus, and become less motivated.
Here are some tips to prevent overburdening workers:
- Allow workers sufficient time away from work to return reenergized and motivated each day.
- Schedule shifts to accommodate the needs of your workers.
- Respect workers' time off.
- Set realistic deadlines and reassess as conditions change.
- Give workers breaks to allow them to destress, rehydrate, refocus.
It may seem counterintuitive to give more breaks when you need to meet pressing business demands.
However, investing in the mental and physical wellbeing of your workers now will save you much more time and money in the future. You will benefit from a more positive workplace culture; workers will be more productive; output will be higher quality; there will be fewer errors and accidents; you will reduce worker turnover; operations will become more efficient; performance will skyrocket.
Watch out for these four signs of an overworked workforce to address these risks before they threaten your business.
For a more objective measure of worker fatigue and stress, have your workers clock-in with AlertMeter. This 60-second cognitive alertness test will let you know when a worker is struggling to work safely and productively and needs a break.