Unpaid overtime totalled £26 billion in 2023. Here are 5 practical tips for seeking more support

Sometimes, when your job is hectic, you may feel the need to go the extra mile and work unpaid overtime to keep on top of your workload.

If you find that you’re often doing this, you’re not alone. Research from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that 3.8 million UK workers did unpaid overtime in 2023, worth £26 billion in total.

While working without pay may help you catch up from time to time, it’s essential to take the necessary steps to secure support. Otherwise, your work-life balance could suffer, which could, in turn, negatively affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

Thankfully, there are practical tips that could help you talk to your manager about your workload. Here are five.

1. Set out your goals before you arrange a meeting

Before you meet with your manager regarding workload concerns, it can be helpful to first take some time to clarify your professional goals and aspirations for the future.

By doing so, you may gain a deeper understanding of your needs and give yourself a clear idea of the extra support required from your manager to achieve your goals.

Moreover, by identifying your goals before the meeting, you could show your manager that you’re eager to find any solution necessary to help you work, rather than dwelling on your previous workload.

2. Clearly outline your issues beforehand to give your manager time to prepare

As well as identifying your goals, it can also be helpful to compile a comprehensive list of any specific challenges you’re experiencing with your workload.

This could include:

  • Tasks that frequently take longer than expected
  • Conflicting deadlines
  • You feel you have inadequate resources to complete your work.

By preparing ahead of time and effectively communicating your issues with your manager before your meeting, you could create a clear and detailed overview. This could, in turn, give your manager the chance to understand the scope of your challenges, and allow them to devise ways to support you.

If you take a proactive approach to your excessive workload, you could foster more empathy and understanding with your manager, potentially enabling them to think of some strategies to address your concerns.

3. Think about what your ideal situation would be, and how it would affect the business

As you contemplate any changes to your workload, it’s essential to also consider the broader implications for yourself, as well as the business.

Indeed, it may be worth taking the time to envision an ideal working environment where your workload is balanced. Then, consider how this ideal situation could enhance your job satisfaction and productivity.

What’s more, it can be practical to assess any impact your workload adjustments could have on the business. For instance, you could highlight how a more balanced workload could improve employee morale, reduce staff turnover rates, and enhance overall productivity and performance.

If you frame your workload concerns with the business in mind, you could demonstrate to your manager that you’re still committed to the company, strengthening your case for changes.

4. Be confident about saying “no”

Learning to say “no” can be a challenging hurdle for many people, as it can feel as though you’re disappointing your team.

For instance, you may feel that by refusing to take on another project, you’re creating more work for your colleagues later down the line.

However, it’s essential to set healthy boundaries for yourself to maintain a healthy work-life balance. If, after meeting with your manager, you agree to take on too much work, you could inadvertently affect your work-life balance, resulting in burnout and less productivity.

To ensure that you don’t succumb to pressure and take on extra work, it’s essential to be completely honest with your manager. After all, the only way your manager will be able to fully understand how your workload is affecting you is if you clearly and honestly communicate your feelings to them.

If you are presented with new tasks and responsibilities, it can be helpful to evaluate them against your current capacity. Then, you can communicate your limitations and propose new solutions, such as delegating work, reprioritising jobs, or seeking additional resources.

5. Focus on the facts rather than letting emotions take charge

Above all, it’s vital to remain calm and stick to the facts when you’re telling your boss you have too much work.

Of course, while it is completely normal to experience emotions such as frustration and stress when discussing your workload, you may derail the conversation if you allow these feelings to dictate the course of the meeting.

In this instance, you could undermine the entire point of the meeting and fail to clearly identify your issues to your manager.

Instead, it may be wise to focus on presenting data, examples, and observations to support your arguments and help your manager see the bigger picture. For example, you could supply data that shows instances of missed deadlines, decreased productivity, or overload.

By doing so, you can ground your discussion in facts and evidence rather than emotion, conveying professionalism, and increasing the likelihood of a constructive outcome.

Fancy a chat? How about a cuppa?

Ask us a question and take your first steps on the journey towards achieving your homebuying or financial goals.

    Please tick how you would like us to contact you.