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Negative Effects of a Heavy Workload

by Lisa McQuerrey, studioD

Heavy workloads are not uncommon in today's workplace. Downsizing, fear of job security and an uncertain economy often prompt workers to accept or take on increasingly greater work responsibilities and longer hours. This increased level of performance doesn't necessarily result in increased levels of productivity. In fact, it can lead to problems and circumstances that actually reduce earnings for a company.

Reduced Productivity

An employee working longer hours isn't necessarily getting more work accomplished. A staffer who is tired, overworked or is attempting to juggle multiple responsibilities is more prone to mistakes. The overall quality of work product can be diminished due to a heavy workload, and mistakes can be costly.


Overworked employees often face higher degrees of stress, which can impact output and lead to physical and mental health problems. A stressed worker is not always focused or able to give complete attention to professional responsibilities. An employee tasked with an excessive workload may feel increasing pressure to perform Herculean tasks, resulting in emotional stressors including depression, as well as physical symptoms like increased blood pressure.


An employee can only take an excessively heavy workload for so long. Sooner or later, the staffer is bound to get burned out from the ongoing and unrelenting workload. An employee facing burnout is subject to higher degrees of absenteeism and sick days, and may choose to leave the company altogether. Hiring and retraining a replacement can be a costly burden for an employer.


Mistakes are more common from workers who simply have too many responsibilities on their plates. The worker who is fatigued or handling multiple tasks may overlook safety precautions or miss crucial deadlines. This could cost the business in many ways, including lost customers, decreased revenue and an increased chance for workplace accidents.

Poor Work-Life Balance

A heavy workload often impacts a healthy work-life balance for staffers. Employees who work excessive hours, have continually changing shift patterns or who are asked to bring work home with them are likely to have poor morale and low job satisfaction. Staffers may grow resentful about the obligations the employer puts on them, leading to workplace apathy.

About the Author

Lisa McQuerrey has been a business writer since 1987. In 1994, she launched a full-service marketing and communications firm. McQuerrey's work has garnered awards from the U.S. Small Business Administration, the International Association of Business Communicators and the Associated Press. She is also the author of several nonfiction trade publications, and, in 2012, had her first young-adult novel published by Glass Page Books.

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