Showing managerial courage also means fighting against “overwork”. Allowing your employees to exhaust themselves, or worse, promoting the culture of ‘always overwhelmed,’ simply harms the health of both the company and its workers. This is demonstrated by several rigorous studies that have concluded that exceeding 4 hours of intensive daily work will not significantly increase the value of the result, if at all, to justify the overtime.

It’s important to note that it is natural for everyone to experience periods of intense activity. ‘Temporal precariousness’ begins when the period of intense activity has no end.

Why this cult of ‘always overwhelmed’?
From the employee’s perspective, one feels committed through effort. Working hard, even on a insignificant task, allows us to justify our commitment and position. It is, therefore, a matter of status. This is especially true for people suffering from impostor syndrome. However, be cautious; the more one works hard, the less one sees the signs of impending burnout.

Leadership also bears responsibility when it only values busyness or fails to implement a clear strategy. This may lead employees, driven by their aversion to idleness, to invent an endless pile of tasks, all deemed top priority and generating a lot of unproductive efforts.

What solutions are there as a manager?

A few suggestions:

  • Integrate a discussion about mental health awareness. Overworking can have serious implications on mental health, and acknowledging this aspect is crucial. Promote an environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental well-being.
  • Improve delegation by giving your employees the framework and means to be more autonomous.
  • Regularly question the efficiency of procedures with the team.
  • Identify and eliminate superficial tasks (such as unnecessary meetings).
  • Implement a performance review system that does not solely rely on the level of activity.
  • Train overwhelmed employees to better manage their workload, either through methodology or by directly rationalizing/prioritizing tasks.
  • Be mindful of your employees’ workload. Are they working on multiple things at once? In that case, make them aware of the cost of context switching. Studies unanimously agree that, even though multitasking may create an impression, it can reduce productivity by up to 40%.
  • Encourage your employees to rest. Is it really necessary to send emails at 11 PM? Why has Robert taken only 2 days off in 4 years?”