5 Signs an Employee Has a Work-Life Imbalance

How do you know for sure if work-life imbalance is the culprit of an employee’s irritability? Check for the following signs ...



It’s not always easy to pick out which workers are feeling the pain of a work-life imbalance, especially when some workers thrive with a little too much on their plate. So how do you know for sure if work-life imbalance is the culprit of an employee’s irritability? Check for the following signs.

Signs of a Work-Life Imbalance

  1. Messy desk or workspace.

    While “creative genius” is everyone’s favorite excuse for a messy desk, there could also be something else hidden in the rubble: the worker could simply be juggling more projects than they’re capable of delivering.

  2. Never-stop attitude.

    Occasionally, there’s a legitimate reason for someone to send an email at 2am (they’re in jail or the ER). But if you regularly receive work emails from a team member in the wee hours, you may want to find out why. By the way, working extra hours may not actually help achieve goals. The Harvard Business Review reported that overwork can cause health problems (impaired sleep, depression, heart disease), increased absenteeism, and cause workers to “progressively work more stupidly on tasks that are increasingly meaningless.” Research from Stanford University was a little more diplomatic. It found that working more than 50 hours resulted in a decline in productivity -- and working beyond 55 hours caused productivity to plummet.

  3. Consistently responding immediately. 

    Beyond sending out messages themselves, workers who immediately respond to you may also have a problem. While we’ve all been known to respond ASAP simply because it was an easy answer or the “must” had struck (that’s why you’re sending a weekend email, right?), workers who respond immediately to emails "and engage in obsessive thoughts about returning an email to one’s boss, colleagues or clients” are likely experiencing work-related pressure to respond right away.

  4. Mood-shifting outbursts.

    People come with baggage -- it’s part of what makes each of us unique. But anytime a team member has a rough time holding everything together -- they snap, cry, storm off, freak out, or just seem off in general -- the situation needs a second look. Any chance their workload is contributing?

  5. Always responding with “Yes!” 

    If a worker says “yes” every time they’re approached with a new project, especially when they have plenty of other projects to keep them busy, they might be imbalanced. Too many projects could be adding to their stress, keeping them away from their personal lives, or causing them to fall behind on other tasks.

What to do if you think a worker has a work-life imbalance

In a 2016 survey, “bad bosses” were the source of the most work-life imbalance. That means you have an opportunity to help fix the problem. Start here:

  1. Sit down with the worker to find out exactly what’s on their plate.
  2. Utilize charts and project-management or time-management software/apps to help you see a big-picture view to prioritize projects.
  3. Consider reallocating the load or bringing in a contractor to take over specific tasks or projects.
  4. Be sure workers aren’t working through their vacation time.

Next, take a look at your own work habits. If you regularly send out work emails at 11PM, stop. Instead, draft the message and hit send once everyone is at work the next morning (or perhaps write the whole thing at your desk the next day). If you’re partial to the talents of a specific worker, which is resulting in them becoming overloaded with projects, have them supervise a team on some projects instead to spread the responsibilities. Other ideas include training to help workers become more familiar with a new task or adding a ticketing system to ensure no one ever has too many projects assigned to him or her.

Last, if you find a work-life imbalance in one team member, look for signs of overworking in the rest of your team, including yourself. Work-life imbalance may be a bigger problem than you realize.

To get more ideas of how to shift your overworked culture to become more balanced, contact your certified HR expert. Not a current Stratus HR client? Book a free consultation and our team will contact you shortly!

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