March 29, 2012 | Barb Carr

Career Development: How to Reduce Workplace Stress – Align Workload with Capability

Last week, we posted an infographic from Human Resources MBA describing how your job may be killing you.  One of the stress points listed on the infographic that employers can do to reduce job stress for employees is to align workload with capability and capacity of workers.

It’s common to blame an employee’s lack of motivation or negative personal traits for work that is not getting done, but digging a little deeper can make the situation win/win for both the employee and the employer.  When the balance between an employee’s capabilities and the job’s challenges don’t match, it’s important to make adjustments.

How do you know if workloads are not aligned properly with the capability of the workers?

If the workload is too complex for an employee, he or she may consistently procrastinate on completing tasks. This employee may also log overtime or take work home every week but never get caught up.

If the workload is not complex enough for the employee, he or she may direct energy to off-the-job activities and/or start thinking about applying underutilized skills somewhere else.  Or worse, the employee “retires” while still on the job, giving up their ambitions or expectations and settling into mediocrity.

Other signs that an employee’s workload is above or below his or her capabilities are chronic tiredness and irritability; physical symptoms such as headaches and other aches and pains; and increased sick days.

How can you help an employee whose capability is not aligned with workload?

If the employee has grown in his or her position, more complex tasks with higher difficulty can be assigned.  Reward your employee with some time away for interesting training that will build on the employee’s skill with a return on investment to the company.  Or, if the employee was not ready for the responsibilities assigned, assign less complex tasks with basic skills training that build up to the complex assignments.  Reward or recognize each employee as new skills are mastered and more responsibility is assumed.

Twenty-five percent of people say that their job is the primary stressor in their lives (  Burnout caused by job stress threatens an employee’s job, relationships, and health.  Proactive steps to help develop your employees will decrease stress in the workplace, promote good health among employees, reduce costly turnovers and increase productivity.

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