Association of Employees
Supporting Education Services

Workload and You

To: All AESES Members

How productive do you think you are? Studies have shown that if you are overworked, it is damaging to your productivity and your health.

Years before the start of this pandemic, the Harvard Business Review provided insight that “…regardless of our reasons for working long hours, overwork does not help us. For starters, it doesn’t seem to result in more output.” The negatives associated with overwork outweigh the positives, contribute to long-term health issues, decrease morale, and increase employee sick time.

According to a KPMG survey that surveyed Canadian employees in April, almost half (49%) responded that they are dealing with heavier workloads. A more disturbing trend from the KPMG survey is that nearly 31 percent more reported that they are so overworked that they are on the verge of burning out or already burnt out.

It might sound like simple advice to stick to your normal seven-hour workday (for most AESES members), but it’s easier said than done. With increased pressure from management, short staffing situations and complexities from working from home, increasing workloads and stress levels are becoming a common experience.

Top seven tips to help you manage your own workload:

  • Make a list (paper or electronic) and prioritize tasks.
  • Set time limits for specific tasks, especially responding to email.
  • Be realistic with your deadlines and how much you can do.
  • Multitasking might not be the best option; switching back and forth from different tasks may increase the time to get things done.
  • Try not to procrastinate. Choose a task and work through it.
  • Take breaks and your lunch. Breaking up large tasks with mini-breaks will help you recharge; even taking a minute to grab a beverage can help change your perspective.
  • Ask for help if you need more details or might need more time to complete a task. Under most circumstances, supervisors are flexible and want to see you succeed.

If the issue is an unbalanced workload within your immediate team, check with your supervisor to see if they can make some changes. Your supervisor might not be aware of the situation, and a quick check-in may help rebalance the workload. For help on talking with your supervisor, please revisit the Can You Tell Me? article in the December 2020 issue of insideAESES. If you are having difficulties reaching a reasonable solution, please contact the AESES Business Office to be connected with our Labour Relations team.

Keep in mind if your area requires a change to your schedule to meet demands or workloads, there are requirements outlined in the collective agreements (UW – Article 12.4, UM – Article 12.5) as to the notice you need beforehand. Remember, schedule changes do not include your supervisor directing you to “flex” your time by essentially working overtime at straight-time rates. Any time worked over your seven-hour workday should be overtime, and your compensation should reflect this.

Articles of interest:

Resources of interest:

In closing, we all want to be productive in our jobs. But working unmanageable workloads and overtime hours is not maintainable in the long run and leaves you running on steam. With a bit of prioritizing and the help of your supervisor or team members, you can return to a balanced workload that allows everyone with enough gas left in the tank to enjoy your life outside of work.

Thanks, and enjoy your weekend!

Did you know

AESES is affiliated with the Confederation of Canadian Unions (CCU).

AESES' Charter Meeting was held in December of 1972.

We offer bursaries for AESES dependents at both universities.

Anyone can attend a Board meeting by calling the AESES Business Office prior to the meeting and confirming their attendance.

AESES requires new volunteers for various committees. Please contact the Business Office if you are an AESES member interested in joining one of our committees.