Piling it on Featured

9:21am EDT April 25, 2005
Every company has them. They rarely complain or say no to requests, and they get the job done on time and correctly the first time. They are high-performing employees, and their supervisors know they can rely on them.

But be careful- these are also the employees most likely to suffer from burnout. It is necessary these days to ensure you are getting the highest productivity from each employee, and adding to the workload of employees who aren't performing at optimum levels is definitely a sound idea. But use caution when adding to the workloads of those who are already on overload.

The super-performing employee will continue to do more work, and you may not realize that you have overburdened him or her until you find the employee passed out under the desk. And remember, top CEOs and executives agree -- your human resources are the most valuable ones you have. You cannot afford to lose these individuals.

Smaller companies in growth mode are the ones most likely to fall prey to this strategy. Recruiting and hiring new employees costs a lot of money, and adding a new person to the payroll may seem like too big a risk. It's tempting to spread the additional work among existing employees, and for awhile, that strategy may work. But if you add more business without hiring a proportionate number of employees, you may be shooting yourself in the foot.

Those valuable employees will eventually get tired of being overwhelmed and burned out. These same employees may also feel less appreciated and respected, leading them to pull up stakes and move to new jobs.

How will you know when you have stretched your employees too thin? The first sign will be that they will make more mistakes than usual -- maybe not a significant number, but it will be noticeable. Secondly, morale will suffer- you'll notice a lot less laughter and smiles.

And lastly, people will be working a much greater number of hours, either at the office or at home. If you are noticing these signs, heed them. Adding more people to the payroll may mean you keep those employees you value.