“Take a deep breath,” Schneider replied, “Tell me what the issue is.”
The associate explained that two cases had exploded at the same time and work was piling up. Schneider suggested bringing in another lawyer for support.
It’s a familiar scenario, Schneider said.
Most bosses prefer that conversation, he said to the alternatives — missed deadlines, mistakes or health issues. In the past, he has worked in environments where people fear speaking up or asking for help. “Usually, they lose it and quit.”
And, as the Pew study showed, many employers aren’t even aware how stressed employees have become.
Miami financial administrator Karen McCarthy was already stewing over an increasing workload that was leading to longer hours. As her boss handed the single mother yet another assignment, her heart began racing and anxiety took over.
When she snapped at her boss, he looked stunned. “That’s when I realized he wasn’t even aware of the weight of the workload he had dumped on me.”
But addressing the situation isn’t only the job of the company. Cali Yost, author of Tweak It and an expert on work-life dialogue, says while a boss can help set assignment priorities, it’s up to each of us to set our life priorities. Once we’re clear on them, we can make small adjustments to get the sense of overwhelm under control rather that reacting drastically, she says.
“The real reason people disengage or quit their jobs is an accumulation of small frustrations,” she said. She advises people to speak up before the situation becomes a powder keg. Ask for small changes that can lessen the load, like a more efficient computer program, a shift in work hours or a scheduled weekly priority meeting.
“People have to partner with their employers.” And that, she says, helps everyone prosper.
Workplace columnist Cindy Krischer Goodman is CEO of BalanceGal, a provider of news and advice on how to balance work and life. Connect with her at balancegal@gmail.
com or worklife