This Leading Productivity Killer is Not What You’d Expect

Overwork is creating a vicious cycle that results in net losses.

During the recession of the late aughts, organizations laid off a ton of employees. Many of them didn’t replace these people, but the amount of work remained. Nearly seven years since the recession began, individual American professionals are feeling the fatigue of doing the jobs of two or three former colleagues.

In their State of Workplace Productivity Report, Cornerstone on Demand cites the results of a new study demonstrating that nearly 70 percent of American employees are suffering from an overabundance of work, and two-thirds feel that work overload is the most significant factor negatively impacting their productivity.

Overwork is a Damaging Epidemic

As I see it, there are two issues here. The first is why Americans are overworked to begin with, and the second in the relationship between overwork and the loss of productivity. Beginning with the first, the staffing shortages I just mentioned are a primary reason employees are burning more of that midnight oil. Jobs were scarce during and immediately after the recession, and employees willingly took on extra responsibilities in order to stay safe. Even when things got better, many companies realized they could do just fine with less and never staffed up again.

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