As the workplace continues to change and move at faster speeds, it has become more apparent to project managers that progress suffers if the workload is not managed in an organized manner. When workflow is unorganized, it is inefficient and productivity suffers. Disorganization and an imbalance in workflow also lead to dissatisfaction among employees, further minimizing the efficiency of productivity. That’s why it’s super important that project managers use best practices to make workload management more efficient.
This is the process of strategically distributing and managing the work dispersed to team members. A successful workload management system ensures that the workload is distributed equally and utilizes team members’ strengths to maximize efficiency. It allows the tracking of performance, individual KPIs, and ensures team members are given their fair share of work.
Why is workload management important?
There are many benefits to workload management, one of which is employee satisfaction. Some ways workload management can improve employee engagement include:
- Maximizes employee performance
- Helps to reduce chaos and stress
- Improves confidence about their work volume
- Produces a higher quality of work at a faster pace
- This leads to a more satisfying feeling at the end of the day instead of feeling overwhelmed
- Decreases burnout and turnover rate
- Decreases unrealistic deadlines and excessive workloads
- Fewer complaints about being overworked
Workload management is also important to the effectiveness of the work being produced. It’s a known fact that satisfied employees produce a higher quality of work. Here are some of the results you can anticipate with an efficient workload management system:
- Meeting scheduled commitments made to customers
- Keeping projects on schedule and budget
- Resources being utilized more efficiently
- Managing time and workload expectations
- Balancing workload demands
- Helping gage capacity
- Strategically planning, estimating, and tracking workload balance
- Optimizing project schedules
An efficient workload management system builds an environment full of engaged team members that in turn builds a culture of producing a quality work product for your customers.
Signs of bad workload management
So, how do you know if you're hitting the mark with your workload management? There are some signs you can watch out for. Keep your eye open for the opposite of what was mentioned above about employee engagement. If you’re seeing the negative side of these benefits to a good workload management system, then it’s time to rethink how you’re distributing the workload.
One major trigger to look for in unbalanced workloads within your team is a breakdown in communication. A proper workload management system communicates details of a project, as well as the assignee, expectations, and deadlines. Improper communication leaves employees left out of important conversations concerning projects, which in turn affects the entire project.
Another obvious trigger is work imbalance. If you have employees of similar roles and abilities that don’t have similar workloads, your project workload is certainly out of balance. Listen for comments of being overworked or underworked. Don’t be afraid to ask this question, but be sure you are creating a culture where employees feel safe expressing their true feelings. Keep in mind, however, that some employees won’t speak up even if encouraged. You’ll need to keep an eye out for signs of stress and burnout, even when all is quiet.
Here are some additional signs to be on the lookout for:
- Deadlines are regularly missed
- Confusion on what tasks to complete first
- Tasks are only completed what asked about
- Team members complain about too much or too little work
- Some team members have excessive overtime or work late/long hours
Steps for good workload management
Now is the time to put best practices in place to ensure you have a good workload management system. Here are some steps you can take to lead your team through completing projects successfully:
- Have a plan. It’s imperative to stop and focus on what’s important. You need to define each task and the timeline for the project before you can make assignments. Break big tasks into smaller ones so they’re more realistic and manageable. Be sure to buffer in enough time so team members aren’t left feeling discouraged when unrealistic deadlines aren’t met.
- Determine resource capacity. Figure out which team member has the most capacity. It’s important to not assign tasks to someone that is already loaded with other important tasks that will compete with new tasks. This could also mean shifting tasks to other team members if a particular team member has more strengths to handle certain tasks.
- Communicate expectations. Always communicate expectations and priorities. Have discussions as to why tasks are assigned and/or reassigned. Each project and its timing differs, so don’t assume team members understand the methodology behind your assignments. Also, communicate the importance of each assignment.
- Continually monitor workload. As projects come and go or change altogether, so do priorities. You’ll need to continually monitor workloads and shift around as needed. As team members complete tasks or as projects closeout, they can take on tasks of other team members at full capacity.
- Manage Efficiency. Sometimes it’s all hands on deck and everyone is at full capacity. Keep team members from becoming overwhelmed by teaching them time management skills. Show them how to use time blocking or other time management skills and help them prioritize tasks as needed.
- Share success stories. Be sure to share the positive comments from customers and executes as a way to encourage team members. Some projects just naturally come with stress, so be sure team members are seeing the positive results of their hard work. This goes a long way with the next project that comes their way.
Why a workload management tool is a must
You’ll want to see every project and every team member in a single platform. A workload management tool will allow you and your team to see assignments and schedules all in one place and in real-time. A single source saves time by not jumping from tool to tool searching for the correct information.
A workload management tool can help distribute and monitor tasks and communicate progress across multiple teams. A good tool like Copy5 will help with project/client management, reporting, collaboration, time tracking, and more. Be sure that you have a system that assists you with best practices to make workload management more efficient.