The Potential Risks of Overworked Employees

Managers and other business leaders have an obligation to their company to get the most they can out of their labor capital.

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Managers and other business leaders have an obligation to their company to get the most they can out of their labor capital. With that said, there’s only so much you can realistically ask of a person, regardless of higher-up demands for making it happen. 

Everyone has their breaking point; sooner or later, overworked employees can become liabilities for businesses. Happier, healthier employees who feel respected and cared for tend to contribute to more to their company – sometimes without even realizing they’re doing so.

Continue reading to learn more about the potential risks of overworking your employees.


Prolonged stress can lead people to enter a fairly catatonic state, preventing them from being productive or optimally responsive. This is a situation referred to as “burnout”.

The propensity of employee burnout increases when workers get pushed to their physical and mental limits. Given the delays that result from employee absence, business leaders must take steps to avoid burnout among their team members.

Drug or Alcohol Dependence

Employees who become chronically overwork may turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to cope with stress and avoid their burnout.

Unfortunately, doing so sets them on a path to destruction. While effective treatment options for substance abuse exist, most companies can’t afford to go without their top talent for that long. It’s best to prevent such a situation from occurring in the first place. It won’t eliminate the risk of substance abuse among any of your employees but it could certainly reduce the chances of it developing due to their work.


Most people have a natural desire to contribute to a collective effort and be recognized for their production. When employees are behind on assignments and told to work harder, they feel like they’re doing the opposite of those things. 

For many people, this sentiment leads to discouragement, which leads to further slumps in performance. While it may be true that employees have it in them to be more productive when they’re underperforming, the cause of this dissonance could be an overwhelming workload. To prevent employees from becoming discouraged to the point of despair, companies need to take a step back and honestly assess their expectations.


Businesses are increasingly implementing productivity monitoring systems intending to boost employee performance. However, unless these monitoring systems are adequately protected, they’re vulnerable to manipulation. In other words, workers often find ways to conceal their true performance metrics – especially if they’re exhausted. 

While dishonesty in the workplace is often grounds for immediate dismissal, the intent may be less malicious than you think. Cultivating a culture of honesty involves management respecting the personal health and wellbeing of employees. It may be that employees are unable to handle their workload and feel compelled to mask the data to avoid the consequences. Either way, such dishonesty may lead to inaccurate company data, which can do untold damage to your business’s goals.


Depending on the work environment, overworked employees can compromise their safety as well as the safety of others.

When analyzed, industrial accidents often trace back to fatigue, distractions, and other hallmarks of being overwhelmed by your job. Overburdened employees can be a safety risk even in seemingly non-hazardous business settings, such as restaurants, retail stores, and office environments. With this in mind, business leaders from all sectors should consider the potential safety hazards of overworked staff.


Chronic stress, lack of sleep, and other common consequences of being overworked take their toll on the body’s immune system. When an overwhelmed employee becomes seriously ill, their inability to wo

Prioritize Safety

One of the biggest fears for essential workers is contracting the coronavirus. They spend hours indoors interacting with customers, which increases their risk of exposure. Should one person contract the virus, it puts their family, other employees, customers, and the community at risk for an outbreak. As such, business owners are advised to do what they can to keep their employees safe. Below are some ideas: 

  • Boost cleaning efforts
  • Allow high-risk staffers to work remotely
  • Provide all employees with adequate PPE
  • Comply with all state and federal guidelines during the pandemic
  • Create methods for regular COVID-19 screening and testing 

rk cancels out whatever extra work they did before getting sick. What’s more, companies can’t afford to have an ill employee infect their coworkers. Such concerns are especially vital due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.


Despite all the cliches about how everyone hates their job, most businesses don’t last long without a happy and satisfied workforce. When someone is overworked, they typically come to resent their employer, which leads to all sorts of negative consequences for both parties. Avoiding such toxic relationships between companies and their employees is in everyone’s best interest. Assess your current productivity parameters to see if a history of disgruntled workers is the result of an overwhelming workload.


Most disgruntled employees will never go so far as to cause damage and loss to their employer’s operation. With that said, there’s always the chance of it happening. While there’s never a justification for criminal behavior, workers pushed to their limits are potentially unhinged. As a result, their decisions may be less than sensible. No matter what factors are in play, companies stand to lose whenever a worker decides to do damage. Taking steps to prevent overworking employees is an effective way of preventing such incidents from happening in the first place.

Managers and others tasked with overseeing personnel performance have every right to expect the most from their employees. However, it’s important to resist pushing workers too far. A workforce consisting of tired, inebriated, and disgruntled employees is a ticking time bomb. Managers have an unparalleled opportunity to protect their workers by handing them what they can realistically manage, dishing out abundant appreciation, and protecting their health and happiness.

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