Why You Should Stop Leaning on Your Star Employees


With the labor shortage impacting workplaces all over the country, it’s getting harder and harder for employers to find reliable talent. As capacity gaps widen, bosses often attempt to plug those gaps by leaning on trusted employees, increasing their workload and adding to their responsibilities.

This may be a successful short-term solution - but it won’t take much for these overburdened employees to become disgruntled, upsetting the delicate employee-employer relationship and seriously disrupting your team’s productivity.

A recipe for burnout

Conscientious workers keep their heads down and their workstations busy, taking on tasks without complaint and battling through any backlogs. Having employees with this kind of diligent attitude is obviously a plus for employers but, if they’re not careful, they can easily overstep - putting too much pressure on reliable workers because they know they’re a safe pair of hands.

With mental health concerns on the rise, employers should be wary of heaping too much on their top performers. Just over 75% of employees report having at least one symptom of a mental health condition, according to one study, and 91% believe that a company’s culture should support mental health. If you’re piling work on trusted staff members, you may be driving them to burnout or worse. 

3 ways to create a more equitable workplace

Given today’s competitive market, it makes sense to take extra care of high-performing employees, making them feel valued rather than unappreciated and overworked. Overwhelmed workers are more likely to jump ship and go where they’re treated with respect.

Instead of nudging them out the door, bosses should consider changing their tactics and introducing policies that reward high-achievers while fairly distributing the workload. Here are some ideas to consider: 

1. Switch up your management style

If you’re regularly handing off tasks to a single employee, you may be over-reliant on their skills and failing to make the most of your team’s unique and disparate talents. 

Good management means knowing everyone’s capabilities and delegating accordingly. It also requires finely-tuned understanding and empathy - people don’t just work for money, they work to feel valued, empowered, and heard. Burying them with a flood of duties that fall outside their regular job description is hardly conducive to building that level of engagement.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that people who are conscientious by nature are also typically less assertive, so they may not feel comfortable articulating concerns about their workload. In many cases, your star worker will just keep going until they suddenly run out of gas. Good managers should be able to avert these kinds of crises before they occur. 

2. Don’t be afraid to jettison underperformers

It’s tempting to cling onto underperforming employees during a labor shortage just to keep bodies in seats, but keeping workshy team members on staff does a disservice to those who are fulfilling and exceeding their responsibilities. 

Employees who regularly pick up the slack for their lazy colleagues would much prefer to carry the load temporarily while you take action and look for someone new to fill that role. This frees them up to tackle their designated responsibilities instead of picking up the slack for someone else. 

3. Hone in on hiring

Just because it’s tough to find talent doesn’t mean you have to give up. Instead, consider refining your hiring practices to more effectively weed out dead weight. 

Hiring managers have to be flexible in hard markets, pulling their focus from certifications that look good on paper to real-world attributes that provide lasting benefits. Technical skills can be taught, but character is innate. Start prioritizing candidates who are team players and those who are able to communicate and collaborate effectively. It’s easy to fake a qualification, but not so easy to fake diligence and dedication. 

4. Use productivity tools

Identifying challenges sometimes requires a more in-depth approach, with greater visibility into daily engagement. 

Employee productivity monitoring solution, Prodoscore, creates a window into your team’s daily touch points across your core business applications, so you can easily identify which employees are struggling, who may be overworked, and who’s not contributing as they should. 

By providing actionable insights, the Prodoscore dashboard is your best tool for ensuring teams stay on track, hit their targets, and distribute their workload equitably. Our software gives each individual a single productivity score and issues alerts for high-risk employees so you can stay ahead of any issues. 

Contact us today for a demonstration of how Prodoscore can help your team find their ideal workflow for productivity gains and better employee engagement.

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