9 Ways to Master an Ideal Workload Balance

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Do you have the ideal workload balance? Few of us do which speaks to a general yet overwhelming trend for many employees: too much work, not enough balance.

A recent study by Deloitte found that 78% of American workers feel burned out at the workplace. Another 77% said they had quit their jobs because of too much work and a lack of motivation to do their jobs.

With so many people leaving their jobs during the Great Resignation, keeping a good balance between work and leisure time is more important than ever. The challenge of managing capacity can be difficult when work comes in waves.

Variable workloads, whether in a large flux or on an as-needed basis, makes for an uneven schedule that can quickly cause disarray, missed deadlines and poor time management. Maintaining a good workload balance is critical for improving productivity and bringing out the best in your employees.

But what is the key to managing a heavy workload efficiently without overwhelming the team? Let’s take a look.

What does “workload” mean?


A workload is comprised of all the tasks, projects and items that take up your time. It’s essentially all the work on your plate at that given time.

When employees think they have more work to do in a day than they can accomplish, they have a high perception of their daily workloads. When people work to the limit of their ability, they are overloaded.

 

Common signs of workload overload


Not enough hours to finish everything on time

  • Consistently working more hours is the first sign that your workload has become too much. When there are not enough hours, nothing gets done in the proper ways. At best, it could be because of a sudden influx of projects or you’re short a team member and there’s just too much work for one person. At worst, the organization is promoting a culture of long working hours. That means the whole team is in the same boat which is not great news in the long run.

Drop in performance goals

  • The first sign that employees are overworked is when they start making mistakes. At some point, errors will start to creep in and no-one can maintain a 100% outcome record when there’s work piling up every other minute. This is when employee performances start suffering which can have huge consequences for the team and company.

Unhappy clients

  • When an employee has a lot to do, it’s easy to lose track of what’s actually important, urgent or critical. It’s common for people who are overworked to miss deadlines or fail to produce high-quality work for clients. An unhappy client can quickly lead to financial consequences for the company.

What is workload management?


Workload management is important for any team to stay on top of their game and get ahead of their workloads. It helps to plan out how you want your work distributed, which can make all the difference in a time crunch! When done right, workload management improves employee performance and reduces conflict, leaving employees satisfied rather than overloaded at the end of the day.

The goal of successful workload management is to ensure that work is completed on time while maintaining a healthy balance in terms of the amount of work for which each team member is responsible.

A quick way of managing everyone’s time is with TimeTrack’s AutoScheduler. This feature creates a simple and clear duty schedule where your employees know exactly when and where they work. The priorities of the automatic assignment allow you to create an individual duty schedule according to your needs.

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TimeTrack AutoScheduler

Why is workload management important?


Creating a practical and doable workload enables employees to set task priorities. Managers should take the lead in ensuring that everyone on the team is doing the same amount of work while drawing up more accurate project schedules.

Prevents employee burnout 

It’s difficult for colleagues to produce their best work when they feel overburdened. Constantly feeling pressed and bound by unreasonable deadlines can cause employees to suffer from stress and anxiety, leading to complete burnout.

Working smart helps you understand the difference between being busy and being productive. With a reasonable workload, employees have more freedom and autonomy to plan their time efficiently, while taking care of their health and wellbeing.

A healthy workload balance saves everyone money, time and energy and makes it easier to work together and get things done.

Distributes work fairly 

Overseeing a team’s workload is important for dividing work fairly and evenly. Most productive workers will probably work on more than one project at a time but this should be balanced by other team members pulling their weight too. The best way to create a balanced workload for a business is to give each member tasks that match their skills and abilities.

Makes the best use of limited resources

Monotony, messy workflows and micromanaging can all lead to more stress and burnout at the workplace. Making small changes to the workload in terms of deadlines, priorities and resources can reduce lag times and make the best use of everyone’s time and capacity.

Reduces employee turnover

You may have often head the saying, “People leave bad managers, not companies.” Part of a manager’s job is to ensure employees are happy, efficient and supported. It costs time and money to keep replacing staff, especially if they’re leaving due to a crazy workload balance. It also makes it easier to keep employees because they are happier when they are not overworked and stressed. Just ask anyone who has set healthy boundaries between work and life efficiently.

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Balancing the workload tips

Achieving a good workload balance


Determining how much work each member has is the first step to manage the workload effectively.

1. Estimate tasks

Estimating how long a project will take is crucial for effective workload management. Include employees in the estimation process as they have better insight into how much time will be required to do a particular set of tasks.

2. Check the team’s capacity

Capacity planning is necessary for managing a team’s workload. It allows you to determine whether an employee can take on a new project or if their current schedule is overloaded. When assessing capacity, strive for an 80% resource usage rate. This goal concedes a 20% cushion for other work that cannot be planned in advance. It also allows your workers to focus on ad-hoc duties such as emails and following up with clients.

3. Set SMART deadlines

Unrealistic deadlines are the silent killer of one’s work and overall morale. It’s critically important to ensure your deadlines can be met so your staff remains motivated. This means considering how fast different group members work on various projects.

4. Prioritize, prioritize and prioritize again

Anyone will feel overwhelmed when everything is “urgent”. An orderly list of tasks gives team members a place to start in terms of priority. They know what to focus on next once a task is completed. This reduces downtime between tasks and boosts productivity. When you have priority conflicts, you must be conscious of the difference between important, urgent and critical. Without a prioritized list, employees may squander time deciding where to start or what to accomplish next. Long to-do lists are also overwhelming. Employees should always be as knowledgeable as possible and prioritize tasks they are responsible for to maintain a balanced workload.

5. Monitor schedules and project progress 

Keep an eye on staff performance and be willing to help as needed. Maintaining an overview on employee workload and utilization rates in real-time can help you spot potential problems and prevent burnout. For example, if you keep track of your team’s utilization rates and see someone above 80%, you can quickly take action and give some priority tasks to someone else.

6. Have regular check-ins

Sometimes, a problem with workload balance isn’t obvious, so try to check in on your team with:

  • 1:1 meetings
  • Sync updates
  • Daily stand-ups
  • Status reports

7. Track time and team’s capacity 

Managing a team’s workload requires being constantly aware of everything around you, which is easier said than done. Tasks may take longer than expected. Employees may miss a day of work, setting the project back. Someone may be off sick for a week, impacting the team’s overall capacity. Even if managers plan well in advance, many variables could affect your teams’ productivity and capacity. This is where TimeTrack Timesheets add value. As a manager, you can quickly gauge specific time on various projects while keeping track of the overall timeliness of the team and various deadlines. With this information, it’s easier to step in and redistribute tasks and reprioritize.

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TimeTrack Timesheet

8. Get creative

Have you heard of a time management mind map? If you’re struggling with your own workload balance or crafting an ideal plan for the team, get creative with task prioritization. Draw up a mind map, find new innovative ways to categorizing work and managing deadlines. It’s about your ideal workload balance, so make it personal.

9. Offer your help

As a manager, it’s important to monitor your employees’ time on task. With this information, you can easily assess the common bugbears that are eating into valuable productive time. Is there anything you can do to help in that particular area? Managers are also a part of the team so be proactive in lightening the team’s load by stepping in to assist when necessary.

Conclusion


“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.” We all have the ability to improve our workload balance and enjoy a healthier lifestyle where work and personal life are in sync. Remember that workload management entails assigning work, managing tasks and communicating with precision and clarity.