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7 Ways to Support Overwhelmed Employees

The number of overwhelmed employees is increasing. Discover seven ways to support overwhelmed employees and ensure their success in your organization.


By ActivTrak

An overwhelmed employee at their desk with their head in their hands.

Over the past few years, reports show an increase in the number of employees who feel overwhelmed with their workloads and responsibilities. As an employer or manager, recognizing the signs of overwhelm and taking proactive steps to support your team members is an increasingly important part of effective management. By implementing strategies to alleviate stress and create a supportive work environment, you can not only improve employee well-being but also enhance overall job satisfaction and productivity. 

In this post, we’ll discuss seven ways to support overwhelmed employees and ensure their success in your organization.

What defines an overwhelmed employee?

To feel overwhelmed, means that someone is in an emotionally or mentally stressed state due to something feeling too stressful or hard to handle. This can mean an employee has an excessive workload or is unable to cope with demands. An employee may also feel stressors from their personal or home lives, which can add to their feelings of being overwhelmed. Recognizing the signs of overwhelm is the first step in providing effective support for your employees. 

How can you tell an employee is overwhelmed?

Signs of employee overwhelm may vary from person to person, but some common indicators in the workplace include:

  • Increased irritability
  • Decreased motivation
  • Lower levels of productivity
  • Frequent absenteeism

Overwhelmed employees may also have physical and mental symptoms, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia

By having your managers pay attention to these signs, you can help them intervene early and prevent further damage to employee well-being. 

Consequences of overwhelmed employees

Not only does overwhelm negatively affect employee well-being, but it also has a significant impact on their performance at work. Overwhelmed employees are more likely to make mistakes, miss deadlines and experience decreased job satisfaction. A study conducted by the American Institute of Stress found that companies lose up to $300 billion annually due to workplace stress-related issues, including overwhelm. By addressing overwhelm proactively, you can mitigate these effects and improve overall performance at your organization. 

7 strategies for supporting overwhelmed employees

Clearly supporting employees who feel overwhelmed at work should be an important part of your management strategy. Here are seven strategies you can implement to help overwhelmed workers in your organization.

1. Encourage open communication

The first step to help overwhelmed employees is to make sure they feel comfortable telling their managers or supervisors when they feel this way. Many employees are afraid they’ll be judged, demoted or punished for saying they can’t handle their workloads. Employees should not just feel that they can tell their managers when they’re overwhelmed; they should also feel supported if they turn down a project or deadline. Make sure you reward honesty rather than punishing it and provide your employees with a variety of ways to communicate their needs to supervisors. 

2. Promote work-life balance

With the rise of “hustle culture” encouraging employees to push themselves harder than they probably should, workplaces must promote work-life balance to prevent employee overwhelm. This usually means leading from the top. That is, make sure that your managers and leadership team practice what they preach, take time off, don’t work when they say they’re not going to and encourage employees to do the same. 

3. Provide mental health resources

One of the biggest health issues stemming from overwhelmed employees is the toll it takes on mental health. By providing resources like mental health insurance or employee assistance programs (EAP), your organization can give employees an opportunity to take care of themselves when they need it. Other resources like meditation apps or supported gym memberships also help employees take control of their mental health before they feel stressed. Encourage employees to develop self-care habits early that can help them manage their stress long-term. 

4. Offer flexible work arrangements

Studies show that flexible work schedules provide employees with better mental health, work-life balance and job satisfaction, which leads to better productivity and can help prevent overwhelm. While not every workplace can accommodate working from home, allowing employees more choice over when and where they work can help them feel less stressed and manage their time better. Organizations should develop a clear policy and work with employees on a one-on-one basis to develop work schedules and arrangements that can help prevent them from becoming overwhelmed. 

5. Schedule company time off

While many organizations boast unlimited vacation or paid time off as a benefit for their employees, ensuring employees use this time is difficult. It’s a good idea to make sure all employees get time away from work to increase their productivity and lower their stress levels. Sometimes the best way to do this is to create company holidays or company-wide days off when no one is expected to answer emails or work on projects. This can relieve the pressure of employees fearing they’ll come back from a vacation with an even larger pile of work. 

6. Provide time and project management tools

When employees feel overwhelmed, they may have trouble prioritizing or completing tasks. Time management software and project management tools help automate some of this, including communicating where projects stand and how busy employees are with assignments. With one less thing to worry about, these tools can help

7. Manage workload balance proactively

Using productivity management tools like ActivTrak Workload Management help you see where employees may be overloaded without having to ask them. The platform provides real-time data on employee workloads, including hours worked and productive time, so you can spot trends before employees become overwhelmed. It also provides insight into burnout risk so you can take steps to reduce stress and provide ways to help employees feel less overwhelmed. 

Find and help overwhelmed employees with ActivTrak

These seven strategies are a starting point to help you identify and help overwhelmed employees. You can further reduce the risk of overwhelmed employees with ActivTrak. Our workload management solution gives you insight into employee schedules and productivity, helping you balance workloads and spot trends that could mean trouble, like long hours, overtime or decreasing productivity. Quickly spot the signs of burnout in your employees with ActivTrak workforce analytics to support healthy work habits across your organization.

Request a demo today to see how ActivTrak will help you take a more active approach to preventing and helping overwhelmed employees. 

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