Created By: Hadassa DubucheMay 25, 2023 In the nonprofit sector, heavy workloads are nothing new, and sometimes necessary to get the job done. Budget cuts, staff shortages, and turnover can mean asking employees to take on more work responsibilities and an expanded role. But what are the consequences for those employees who are given a workload that exceeds what they can reasonably be expected to accomplish? Are we undermining their ability to do quality work and meet deadlines? To help the organization achieve its goals and to be better positioned to earn a raise or promotion, some employees may be eager and willing to take on new and increased responsibilities. But that can come with a cost. An employee’s morale and performance can suffer when they feel overworked and unable to perform up to their usual standards. And the mission of the organization may suffer as a result. But there’s an even more insidious side to an excessive workload, and that’s the toll it can take on an individual’s well-being. A heavy workload and the long hours often associated with it increases the risk of burnout, mental stress, and physical disorders. It can also negatively impact an employee’s personal and professional relationships. A survey by the American Institute of Stress found that 80 percent of managers and employees feel stressed out at work. “Increased levels of job stress as assessed by the perception of having little control but lots of demands have been demonstrated to be associated with increased rates of heart attack, hypertension, and other disorders,” the institute says on its website. Stress and anxiety can have a profound effect on an employee’s ability to perform at a high level. Overburdened workers are often less productive and efficient, all of which makes evaluating the work performance of an employee with a burdensome workload and expanded role extremely challenging. How do you fairly evaluate an employee who has taken on additional tasks—requiring new and different skills—in order to support a short-staffed organization? Most nonprofit organizations have solved staffing concerns by working with current team members who have stepped up. When it is time for their performance evaluation, their review should not suffer if they need to improve in areas where they are learning new skills. Because pay and promotions are typically tied to an employee’s performance, managers and HR departments should be compelled to take into account workload when evaluating employees, especially those with excessive workloads. Employers may have to decide what, if any, special consideration should be given to an employee with a heavy and, possibly, unreasonable workload. Nonprofits should also be realistic and intentional about hiring the right people to fill in organizational gaps. A stressed and overworked workforce will hinder organizational success. Recruiting new team members is essential to maintaining productivity, ensuring quality work, and helping to reach your goals. Adding new team members can alleviate the burden on current staff, allowing them to focus on their core responsibilities and preventing the negative impact of chronic overwork on their mental and physical health. Hiring and recruiting at your nonprofit not only prevents burnout and maintains productivity, but also brings a myriad of benefits to your organization. By intentionally seeking out individuals with the right skills and qualifications to fill gaps, you can cultivate a diverse and dynamic team that brings fresh ideas, perspectives, and expertise. Expanding your team through strategic recruitment allows employees to focus on their areas of expertise and perform at their best. Ultimately, investing in the right people through recruitment ensures the long-term success and impact of your nonprofit organization. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, which makes it an ideal time for both employers and employees to learn more about the impact of a heavy workload on an individual’s mental health and job performance. By prioritizing recruitment over expanded workloads, your organization can create a supportive work environment where your team members feel valued, motivated, and productive. Orr Group’s Talent team can quickly assess the intricacies of an organization’s existing culture, its impact on talent, areas for improvement, and find helpful solutions. Contact us to learn more. Contact Us Hadassa Dubuche is a Senior Associate Director on the Talent team. Hadassa brings over 7 years of experience to work with our partners, advising on HR, managing and supporting learning and development, compliance, employee relations, and strategy.