“At Least I’ve Got a Job”: Employed but Overworked

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The 2020 nation-wide shutdown impacted many businesses, forcing organisations to make deep resource and budget cuts during the pandemic, leaving the “lucky” remaining employed overworked to keep up with the demands of the business.

Along with increased workload, a transition to WFH (work from home) meant people were only a few steps away from their “office” making it harder to detach from work and keep a work/life balance.

The perception “I am overworked, but at least I have work” became a guilt trip between business owners and employees. Employees were compelled to work themselves to the bone to prove they’re worth keeping.

Stacey Parker, senior lecturer and centre director at the Centre for Business and Organisational Psychology at the University of Queensland stated, “this sort of job stress has serious implications for peoples’ mental and physical health, as well as their motivation towards their work, and their commitment to their job overall.”

Overworking is not a new concept, but COVID-19 made it common.

One big problem is there’s no escape. With nothing much to do and nowhere to go, people feel like they have no legitimate excuse for being unavailable.

“We have a culture of ‘everything needed to be done yesterday’. And when people are working in that state for too long, the stress levels go up and they burn out.” Dermot Crowley, founder of Adapt Productivity commented on the overworking culture. 

Tips for avoiding being overworked: 

  • Set and stick to consistent work hours
  • Start a sleep schedule
  • Prioritise tasks and be realistic that not everything can be done today
  • Get outside and move more
  • Start an open conversation with coworkers and managers about your new personal guidelines, so time off is really time off

“The human body is the weakest link in a distributed workforce infrastructure.” – Toptal. 

You shouldn’t feel guilty for having a job. The “at least I have a job” burden does not excuse being overworked. Be in tune with your body and set yourself guidelines to tilt the work/life balance to be more level.

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