Workload management is the practice of distributing work equally and efficiently throughout a team. As a team leader, it’s essential to ensure your team members have a balanced workload to avoid feelings of overwhelm and burnout. In a study by Asana, 71% of workers felt burnout in 2020, and 82% felt less engaged at work due to stress and pressure. This burnout can lead to a decrease in employee productivity, hurting the long-term goals for your business.
Read more about why workload distribution is important, steps and tips to distribute workload management equally, and signs that your business may have unfair workload distribution.
Why is workload distribution important?
Managing team workload is vital to avoid burnout and work-related stress among employees. Working distribution helps provide a foundation for:
- Optimizing employee schedules
- Utilizing your resources effectively
- Keeping projects on track
- Staying on budget
- Managing time and expectations efficiently
If done correctly, this improved workflow can boost confidence in team members, reduce disorganization, and leave your team feeling more satisfied.
Risks of an unbalanced workload distribution
There are many risks of a business with an unbalanced workload distribution—this mostly centers around the emotional well-being of your employees, which can have a long-term impact on the success of your business. Other risks include:
- Escalated conflict and resentment: Stressed and overwhelmed team members could be a recipe for conflict, as well as team members with a heavy workload resenting others who have a lighter workload.
- Unproductive work: Overloaded team members may have to turn to multitasking to get through the day. This can end up with a “quantity over quality mindset” when it comes to getting through a large to-do list which is unproductive overall.
- Increased turnover: If team members feel burnt out and underappreciated, they may look elsewhere for a structure that’s more supportive. This can create a high turnover within your business.
How to distribute workload equally: 7 steps and tips
Assigning tasks to team members equally is important to ensure proper workload distribution and avoid burnout—this is the key to running your business effectively and efficiently. Here are seven steps to accomplish workload distribution along with helpful tips.
1. Determine your team’s workload and capacity
First, it’s important to take a step back and figure out the amount of work your team needs to tackle. Get your plans in order by:
- Creating a list of projects your team is responsible for
- Figuring out the timing of work and scope for each project
- Organizing projects into categories and dividing them into digestible chunks
- Prioritizing projects based on urgency and importance
With workload tracking, you can get a better sense of how much work each team member should tackle, or has the ability to take on.
Tip: While determining capacity, be sure to also consider things like meetings, recurring tasks, and any paid time off that could be coming up.
2. Review your data
Taking a look at the data and metrics behind the projects can also give you a good sense of bandwidth and how to reprioritize workload tasks. Ensure the data and analytics is being tracked and is accurate—this can include reports from:
- Time trackers
- Inventory sheets
- Employee schedules
- Paid time off
It’s also a good idea to get a better understanding of the amount of time each project or task takes.
Tip: Introduce a workload management tool such as time tracking if not already implemented—many time tracking platforms can give you insight into how much time a team or individual is spending on a project.
3. Start allocating tasks
After the data gives you a better idea of how much work a team member can take on, you can start allocating tasks and craft project timelines. Be sure to break this list down into steps required for each task, the estimated number of hours, and prioritize based on importance and due dates.
Tip: Be sure to review the big picture, such as your business’s goals in the long run—this can help you determine prioritization and resource allocation.
4. Have an impartial mindset
Be fair and don’t play favorites when allocating work to team members. You must have an unbiased workload distribution system when it comes to types of projects you assign, vacation requests, and scheduling. Be sure you’re not overworking top performers as well.
Tip: You can’t make everyone happy, so keep this in mind while assigning tasks to avoid burnout on your end as well.
5. Ensure roles and expectations are clear
When it comes to workload distribution, it’s crucial that each team member is very clear on what their role entails and what’s expected of them. The clearer this is to each employee, the easier it will be to assign and review projects.
Tip: Making sure that each role is specific and established will better help you assign tasks based on strengths and job descriptions.
6. Be open with communication
Managing workloads is best when there is open communication in a team. Be sure to set up one-on-one chats with each team member to check in and get insight into how their workload feels—this can help them feel heard and get them more engaged and motivated.
This can be a great time to get insight as to what’s working or not and if you need to rethink your workload distribution plan.
Tip: When having open communications with your team members, be sure to discourage long working hours within your conversation. This can help reinforce a “teamwork” culture that values productivity and quality over the number of hours employees work.
7. Stay flexible
Don’t become overly strict about your workload distribution plan—sometimes, things within your department or organization will change and you’ll need to be flexible. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to switch gears and shift your plan.
Some team members may take on more than others in one quarter, but then it should even out throughout the course of the year.
Tip: Making sure your employees track their paid time off days in advance can make it easier to plan and schedule specific tasks around them.
Signs your team has an unfair workload distribution
An unbalanced workload can hurt team performance. To help avoid an unbalanced workplace and start managing workload effectively, you need to first know how to detect unbalanced workloads. Here are several signs that your team may have an unfair workload distribution:
Your team is working long hours
If you notice that most of your team members are working long hours or logging on during non-work hours, you may need to rethink your workload distribution strategy and reduce workloads.
Alternatively, there may be workers that aren’t working long enough or are taking breaks that are too long. An improved and balanced employee workload can help with time management and a healthier work-life balance.
There’s a lack of communication
Another sign of unfair workload distribution is the gradual slowing down of communication between team members. Lack of communication could mean that certain tasks or project details can slip through the cracks, leaving you behind schedule and on different pages.
To bring everyone back to the same page, you can review communication best practices and hold a team meeting.
There’s a decrease in employee retention
If you find that more and more of your team members are putting in their two weeks, it could be a sign that your strategy isn’t working and that team members are being put under too much pressure and stress. A decrease in employee retention can be costly as you’ll have to spend on resources to hire replacements.
Employees are missing deadlines
Projects hitting their deadlines is important to overall business success. If projects need extensions and employees are missing deadlines, you’ll need to address this by reprioritizing and managing workloads.
However, it’s important to ensure that these deadlines are attainable and realistic for your team to meet. Consider integrating workload management tools along with your workload distribution strategy to maximize benefits.
Ensure you set your team up for success
By following these steps and tips, you can help ensure your entire team has a balanced workload distribution and a more productive mindset. If you’ve noticed any of the signs above, it may be time to reconsider your software and resource management.
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Featured Image Credit: istockphoto/jacoblund.