Manage workload in your small business

How to proactively manage workload.



How this helps your business

When employees are overworked, their mental health suffers. Workplaces with too-high workloads see more injuries, sick leave and compensation claims.

Healthy workloads mean employees can respond quickly to problems, because they are not already working at maximum capacity.

Key stats and facts

When employees have more control over how they do their jobs, lower workloads, and more support, their health improves.

Egan, M., et al., (2007). The psychosocial and health effects of workplace reorganisation. A systematic review of organisational-level interventions that aim to increase employee control. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Step 1: Learn more on this topic

Step 2: Assess your workplace

Consider using the checklist below and tick 'Yes' for each sign of work overload that you've seen in your workplace. Note how your work environment and management behaviours could be impacting positively or negatively on workload.

(You'll decide on your priority areas in Step 3).

Step 3: Consult your staff

From the checklist you completed in Step 2, choose 2 areas you think are the most important to work on.

(You'll learn what your workplace can do to improve them in Step 4)

You should take these to your employees and ask their opinion –   they might have some great ideas too. You can use surveys, team meetings or informal workshops to come up with some solutions. Write your two focus areas in the 'priority areas' section of your checklist.

Step 4: Make a start

It is often hard for owners and managers to know where to start when they are faced with work overload problems.

Take a look at the tip sheet below and choose 1 or 2 strategies that you think will make a difference in your workplace. Get your people involved –   since they are the ones doing the work, they often have valuable suggestions.

Tip: choose strategies that are simple enough that you can accomplish in the next 2 months. This will show everyone in the workplace that lowering work overload is important to you.

Tip sheet to address work overload problems

Time pressure

  • Allow enough time for tasks to be completed
  • Make sure employees have the right resources to get the job done
  • Monitor workloads at peak times or during holiday periods
  • Encourage employees to speak up if they are struggling

Work design

  • Give your employees tasks that match their skills
  • Offer training and keep records of who's done what
  • Talk with your employees about their growth and development regularly
  • Plan rosters so employees get enough rest time in between shifts
  • Discourage working long hours, taking work home, or working though breaks
  • Promote work/life balance and encourage employees to take their entitled leave
  • For physically demanding jobs, make sure the environment is safely set up, and employees are taking regular breaks

More resources

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Disclaimer: The WorkWell Toolkit provides general information only. Please consider your specific circumstances, needs and seek appropriate professional advice.