Every day, Sherrie jots down a long list of tasks she must do. She’s a senior HR manager so her list is full of tasks like reviewing benefit plans and creating referral programs. Of course, she also includes some duties she must do as a wife and mom. Her goals each day? Finish office-related errands in the office. Head straight home after work and save the remaining hours of the day for her family.

But the exact opposite happens almost everyday. Because of her heavy workload, she works each day and most nights, sacrificing family time to meet deadlines.

Looking at her schedule today, she wonders if she will finally make it. This morning, she promised her 10 year-old son that she will help him with his science project later. She also promised her husband that she will cook his favorite dish for dinner.

She sighs though, realizing that HR never runs out of work to do. Once she would finish a task, another will pop up in its place. Soon, piles of work get higher and higher such that working only during office hours won’t ever be enough.

Increasing Demands on HR

The HR profession is one of the most demanding jobs ever. Failure to track time and finish tasks as scheduled results to immediate backlogs. When it happens almost on a constant basis, you will surely need to work triple-time just to catch up. If you’re not good at time management, it’s hard to blend in with the HR culture.

In 2009, a group of researchers started tracking the volume of HR’s workload. Three years later, the group discovered that in general, HR is handling a workload 40 points higher than in 2009. 

The reason for HR’s increasing workload goes beyond the issue of simple time management. The problem stems from higher rates of vacancy, absenteeism, and resignation. When stats increase on these three factors, HR shoulders the burden. Those in human resources are oftentimes compelled to bring unfinished tasks at home.

When Overtime Work becomes Inevitable

We know that doing overtime work on a regular basis is never healthy. What can you do if you noticed that you’re getting a lot of it lately? Are there possible ways to lessen the hours you spend for overtime work? Here are a few proven solutions:

1. Manage expectations of managers.

There are two kinds of boss. There’s one who will tell you to work beyond office hours. The other  won’t tell you to do it, but will give you a list of unreasonable goals and deadlines.

A demanding job plus a demanding boss—well, you know it’s challenging. What if you realized that a certain goal or deadline is unrealistic? There’s nothing wrong if you try approaching your boss about it. He might also recognize the problem he wasn’t able to foresee.

So, when you’re given a task, do these things:

  • Analyze if the goal and deadline are both realistic.
  • Tell the boss what extra tools or resources could you use to finish on time.
  • Set mutual expectations and priorities so you are both working on the same page.
  • Recognize future problems earlier and propose tangible solutions.

2. Prepare ahead for expected overtime work.

Before you get overwhelmed by a long list of tasks, go take a deep breath. Succumbing to stress won’t help. But preparation makes a world of difference.

  • Work from home if you know you won’t be able to finish all your tasks during office hours. Say, you spend an hour each day to commute to and fro your office. You can do a lot in an hour plus the total hours you have in a day for work, minus the hassles of commuting!
  • Limit the commitments you make each day. More commitments, equals more stress. You might end up accomplishing nothing.
  • Set a limit on your overtime work. Don’t neglect family time and exercise. Don’t deprive yourself from getting enough amount of rest and sleep. Work shouldn’t be about the quantity. Focus on the quality of your work. Work smarter.
  • Find an activity that will jumpstart your day. With new energy comes more productivity. Start with an easy activity, an activity you enjoy, whatever kind of work you love doing. The jolt of enthusiasm you feel at the start will give you the momentum you need to finish the day strong.

3. Use tools to lessen workload.

The good news is, the technology is adapting to our fast-paced lifestyle. With just a few clicks, you can finish something through your computer or smartphone. There are lots of HR tools available these days. Make the most of software apps that could cater your specific needs.

Examples of HR tools you can use:

This software handles virtual applicant interviews. Jobatar allows you to record the questions for interview. Once you send invites to the interviewees, they will be able to access those questions and record answers through their webcam. You can review each applicant’s video later on, whenever, wherever you are. 

15Five is a great platform that connects employees with their managers through pulse surveys. This tool aims to measure employee satisfaction in their work environment. Reduce follow ups while acknowledging achievements and providing automated feedback about each employee’s performance.

Find out how productive your employees are through this tracking tool. DeskTime helps you automate time tracking, projects, and reports. Plus, it provides an analysis of your employees’ productivity.

Trello is how you define fun and engaging project collaborations. Trello helps your team discuss and organize tasks and goals through boards, cards, and lists.

This is another tool designed to maintain transparency in the company. TinyPulse helps you receive feedback in real time so you can address them right away.

If you want to avoid the problems of manual payroll computation, Salarium is the solution for you. This software automates payroll calculation and other HR tasks. It reduces payslip errors and frees up your time for other HR matters.

Finish More Work In Fewer Hours

As much as possible, reduce the time you spend for doing overtime work. Don’t push yourself too much if you know you’re working towards an unrealistic goal or deadline. Instead, discuss it with your boss.

Do you need to outsource some tasks in your workload? Do you need more tools and resources to finish the work faster? Perhaps the answers to these questions will be the key to working fewer hours, while finishing a larger volume of work. Don’t forget that you have a life outside work. Don’t let work dominate your life. Learn how it’s possible to have a work-life balance.

Sherrie learned this lesson. She realized that she needs to talk to her boss. Her deadlines are unrealistic. She can’t handle the workload anymore, unless she’s given access to more tools and resources to get the job done faster.

The boss said he will think about the matter. He acknowledged Sherrie’s point. Sherrie headed home. She’s determined to fulfill her promises to her family. This time, she needs a break from overtime work. It’s about time to focus on her other commitments.


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