Imagine this scenario: a co-worker leaves and their workload is dumped on you. Does this strike a nerve? How do you deal with getting a bigger workload after a co-worker quits?
If you've been in a similar situation, or think this might happen to you at your current job, here are three steps to follow so you can effectively deal with a sudden increase in workload.
Step 1: Write Down Your Tasks
The first thing I want you to do is take a breath. Don't react. Then, I want you to get out a piece of paper and create three columns.
Column 1: List every single task you got hired to do that you currently do.
Column 2: List the additional tasks you've taken on since you've started the job.
Column 3: List all of the additional responsibilities they want you to take on now that this employee has quit.
Now, go back to each column and next to each task and responsibility, put how much time it takes you to complete them. How many hours do you spend doing each task? Tally that time up. This is quantifiable information. This is a factual document that explains how you physically cannot do all of this work in the allotted hours now.
There are only so many hours you can work in a day or week, and this document factually shows your employer that what they're asking you to do exceeds that time.
Step 2: Meet With Your Boss
The second thing I want you to do is meet with your boss. Your tone is really important here. Set up a meeting with your boss, and when you walk into their office, don't be angry or defensive. Go into this meeting thinking like a partner. Go in with a positive mindset. Don't assume the worst. You're going to sit down and say...
"I know you need me to take on so-and-so's work, but I just sat down and looked at this and I wanted you to look at it, too. This is a breakdown of all the work I'm currently doing, plus what you're asking me to do, and I don't see how I can do all this in the time allotted. So, I thought we could sit down and talk about which of my activities could drop off for a while. Or maybe I could give a couple of them to someone else because I really don't see how I can get all of these tasks done. I thought we could figure this out together."
Make sure you stay calm and positive as you talk to your boss. Once you express your concerns, you're going to get one of three reactions from them. The best reaction is, "Oh my gosh, you're right. Hey, guess what? You don't need to worry about this, this, and this right now. Just focus on these tasks, okay?" That's a really collaborative boss.
The next possible reaction is, "Well, I'm really stuck. I need you to do everything you're now responsible for. Can you work overtime? What can you do?" Then you would have to get clear on just how much overtime you'd be willing to do.
The last (and worst) possible reaction is, "I'm sorry, this is the way it is. You just need to do your job better and get it done."
Brace yourself for these possible reactions from your boss.
Step 3: Decide Whether To Stay Or Go
After meeting with your boss, it's now time to decide whether you want to stay at your job or look for a new one. If your boss is collaborative and reduces your workload, that's great—you'll probably stay. If they're semi-collaborative, but don't reduce your workload, start looking for a new job. And if they're a jerk, start looking for a new job when you get home that night.
There are plenty of jobs out there. If you need to, you can quit your job and take an hourly job just to cover your bases so you can get out of that toxic work environment. I'm not promoting quitting. But we're already seeing record numbers of job burnout, and that's fueling part of the Great Resignation. All I'm suggesting is give this strategy a try. Have a logical conversation, and based on that, you're going to know what your next step should be.
Getting a bigger workload after a co-worker quits is a common problem many professionals will face at some point in their careers. If you've followed the steps above and decided it's time to look for a new job, check out Work It Daily's membership options. We're going to help you find a new job because you don't deserve this. If your employer isn't going to work with you, then it's time to figure out your next move.
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