How to Approach an Employer About Being Overworked

When you feel overworked, avoid approaching the boss when you're emotional or cranky.
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Everybody, at one time or another, feels the burden of an overloaded work schedule. However, if you find that your workload is consistently too much to bear, it's time to sit down with your boss before the situation spirals out of control. Approaching your employer requires careful planning and a tactful approach. This is easy to pull off by following some basic principles of communication and considering the employer's point of view.

    Step 1

    Set up a face-to-face meeting. Rather than delivering the grievance through email or memo, ask for an appointment with your employer to discuss the issue in person. Send an email and convey that you would like to meet to discuss a problem that is interfering with your ability to work effectively. Ask the employer for a convenient date and time to come in for a brief talk. Avoid rushing the employer by demanding to meet as soon as possible, as this could convey a lack of professionalism. Understand that your employer is a very busy person, and approach with an awareness and respect for the employer's full schedule.

    Step 2

    Organize your points. The employer will want to know the problem right away, but you should deliver the information directly and unemotionally. Be straightforward and let the employer know that you are concerned about your workload. Before the meeting, jot down a list of tasks assigned to you and estimate the hours required to complete each. When you meet with your boss, show your chart and explain that the workload is impossible to cover in the normal workday.

    Step 3

    Phrase your concern in language that applies to the company's goals, rather than your personal needs. For example, rather than saying, "I have no time for myself," tell the employer that your workload is causing you to rush through projects and deliver less-than-perfect work. Keep the company in mind by focusing on your role in the workplace, not your personal life or needs. According to Mike Lee at Biz Thoughts, some employers simply don't realize that the workload they've given an employee is impossible to manage. Giving the boss a chance to fix the problem is better than waiting until a breaking point or leaving the job entirely.

    Step 4

    Come to the meeting with a few solutions already in mind and suggest them respectfully. For example, you might say, "Hiring an intern or an assistant would help me balance smaller daily tasks with bigger concerns and projects." Actively listen to the employer's response and suggestions, and avoid getting defensive. Never deliver an ultimatum or a threat to leave. Instead, suggest ways to improve your role and performance on the job.


    • Take the extra time to dress professionally and polished when you meet with your employer. This conveys that you care about your job and have respect for the company's image.

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