“I have one team member who keeps telling me they’re bored.  They still have plenty on their plate and I don’t want to give them anything more as I’m worried I’ll overload them.  What can I do?”

Our ideal state of work utilisation, generally speaking, is “active”.

What this means is that we have sufficient work volume, work that stimulates us, challenges us (within our capabilities) and enables us to learn and grow.

When we have too little work itself, or a lack of stimulating, engaging work, this can also impact on individual morale and wellbeing.

It’s not as high risk as those with high work demands but it’s a pretty demotivating and underutilised state to exist in.  We call this low strain.

When I run my Understanding Workload Management workshop I use a software polling tool to get the audience to rate their level of work utilisation.  Across the board, without exception, I see around 15-17% of participants say they are “demoralisingly underutilised”.

Now this could mean two things:

  1. Not enough work to do (volume)
  2. Not enough stimulation, meaning or sense of purpose in the work they are doing

Everyone needs to feel they make a difference to something by way of their efforts at work.

Here’s a few things you could try to help this team member get a pep in their step:

  1. Ask them if they would be interested in taking on a stretch task or challenge.  Ask them to identify an area of interest, a project or other work task they would like to take on.  They may have strength areas they are not getting a chance to utilise currently.
  2. Find a way to connect their work role to the broader purpose and meaning of the organisation.  We often forget to join the dots for people so everyone can see how their role (no matter what level or type) contributes to the success of the organisation.
  3. If possible, help people meet or observe the people their role serves.  If you have a particularly complimentary customer, ask them if you could connect them to the team that may have indirectly assisted them.  There is much evidence that shows when call centre operators for example, connect with the people they assist their work satisfaction and motivation increases, because they see the direct benefits of their work. For example, billing services may meet up down the track with a customer who was able to save their house as a result of a billing plan.

Connecting purpose to peoples roles is an underused strategy for boosting role satisfaction.

If you’d like support to reduce work stress associated with high and low work demands, here’s four ways I can help:

1 – Understanding Workload Management – Half day workshop for Leaders
2 –  Workload Management Guidelines – Comprehensive Checklists and Guidance
3 – Breakthrough – An Individual Program for Professionals Struggling with Workload
4 – Workload Utilisation Assessment Tool with Coaching Instructions for Leaders

Reach out for a chat to learn more.

#transformingnorm #mentallyhealthyworkplaces #safeandeffectiveleadership #workloadmanagement #psychosocialhazards #psychologicalhealthandsafety

Tanya Heaney-Voogt

Director & Principal Consultant
MBA, ICFACC, MAHRI, Dip Mgt, Dip Coaching, Prosci® Certified Change Practitioner
E: tanya@tanyaheaneyvoogt.com

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