Are you doing the jobs that two (or even three) people used to do? If so, you're not alone. A lot of companies seem to have determined that it's more profitable to work existing employees to a frazzle than to hire more people.

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Are you doing the jobs that two (or even three) people used to do? If so, you’re not alone. A lot of companies seem to have determined that it’s more profitable to work existing employees to a frazzle than to hire more people.

The problem, of course, is that doubling up on duties only works for a while. Sooner or later your work will suffer, at which point your problem will become your company’s problem.

So you need to sit down with your boss and show that trying to accomplish the impossible is a recipe for failure — yours and the company’s. You do this by drawing a straight line from your workload to the performance of your core job and all the way to the company’s bottom line.

Pick a day when things are less crazy. Speak positively (don’t say “I have only two hands, you know,” or “Hey, what do I look like? Superman?”). Come armed with a list of the tasks your boss has assigned you, an estimate of how many hours it takes to do each task, a comparison of that estimate to the number of hours in a day, and (this is the most important part) a list of ideas as to how the work could be better distributed.

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Where you can, strengthen your case by using dollars and cents.

Be compassionate; your boss may also be feeling overwhelmed. And keep an open mind — your boss may have pressures and priorities you don’t know about. Take the attitude that you are in this together.
The majority of bosses and companies want to do right by employees. So give them a chance by tactfully presenting them with the facts and a demonstrated willingness to cooperate. It’s even possible that your boss isn’t aware of the weight of your workload. (A sad, but true, fact: The “reward” of a dependable achiever is often to be given more duties.)

However, every workplace is different, and every boss is different. You may eventually need to consider whether this is a company you want to stick with in the long term. Meanwhile, it’s to your advantage to do the best job you can — all day, every day — and to be open, honest and professional in your workplace relationships.

Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use. Email her at wg@karenburnsworkinggirl.com.