Overloaded & Overlooked: The Impact of Taking on More Than you Can Handle at Work

You ever get tired of people asking you to do more than you have the capacity to handle? First of all, that is the literal definition of stress and second of all, it can play a major role in the lack of psychological safety you may be experiencing.

Today I’m sharing a workplace scenario we’ve created that highlights the frustration that comes with increasing demands and little to no support. Check it out below!

This scenario shows the pressure of putting more on your plate than you can handle and how that impacts an employee’s experience of psychological safety in the workplace. When an employee is asked to take on more than they can handle, it can lead to feelings of being overwhelmed, undervalued, and unheard. Not to mention, when someone is passive aggressive or publicly shames an employee for not meeting expectations, it can further erode psychological safety and create a hostile work environment.

So here’s some recommendations ⬇️

To the person doing the pressuring


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When someone has a full plate, can’t take anymore, has expressed their concerns, and you continue to PUSH. That’s a solid recipe for disaster and lack of Psychological Safety. Your needs are not more important than anyone else’s. The way you communicate those needs will make a huge difference.

Ask yourself:

💭What alternative ways can I handle this?

💭Is there anyone else that can support me with this?

💭Am I being realistic about timelines?

To the person feeling the pressure


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This may or may not be a season where you are able to add things onto your plate. If someone is backing you into a corner and demanding more of you, it’s up to you to determine what you truly have the capacity for and how you will respond to their request. One thing you may want to do is check in, often, on how you are feeling about your workload and capacity.

When you’re feeling pressured to do more than required, consider the following:

💭Why don’t I feel like I can push back to this person?

💭What is my role & is this a part of what I’m supposed to do or taking the pressure off of someone else’s shoulders?

💭What’s realistic for me in this season?

💭If I take this on, can I do it with excellence?

💭Can the timeline be modified?

💭Is there a way for me to create a quick SOP (outline of the task) so that someone else can take it on?

As workplace leaders it’s important to ensure that employees have the resources and support they need to successfully carry out their responsibilities. This means being aware of each employee’s workload and ensuring that they have the necessary tools, time, and support to achieve their goals. It also means providing an open and supportive environment where employees feel heard and valued, even if they are unable to take on additional responsibilities.

This week’s scenario comes from our Interactions at Work Psychological Safety training. Our training consists of employee-centered Psychological Safety conversations and team building exercises which will help employee’s learn tools for managing stress, explore the consequences of what they say and do, consider the assumptions they make about those they work with, and redefine what it means to contribute to a psychologically safe work environment.

Grab our free checklist that walks you through our framework for creating psychological safety below!