You work hard. Everyone around you works hard. People pulling their weight really gets a company to thrive.

But there’s a fine line, a balance, between working hard and working too hard. Between people doing their job and being overworked. And with stress, anxiety and depression costing around £35 billion a year to the economy, it’s important to understand the distinction.

Let’s look at how you can avoid overworking yourself so that you can prevent burnout.


What is overworking?

If you are overworked, you’re taking on—or being given—too much work. An overworked employee, rather than putting in their best and bringing in results, is tired, stressed, and risking burnout.

Being exhausted means you’re also more prone to make mistakes, which is deadly in some environments. You have a duty of care for yourself, and those working around you, and you can’t be putting everyone at risk of workplace accidents.


How to tell is you have too much of a workload..

You might feel dread on the commute to the office. This is because, in your mind, you are about to face eight hours of stress.

Stress in the workplace means employees who are overworked will find it hard to ask for help. There will be fear that an excessive workload is normal and they may think they’ll lose their jobs if they admit it’s becoming too much.

There are a few key signs that you are feeling stressed and are being overworked. Here is a selection of them:

  • Missing family commitment.
  • Staying late and working long hours.
  • More emotional than usual.
  • Drop in workload quality.

What are the effects of heavy workloads?

The effects of a heavy workload  are numerous and unpleasant. Unfortunately, sometimes companies expect too much from employees—whether this is due to understaffing, unrealistic targets, or a working culture that places onerous demands on people.

Regardless of the cause, the results of too much pressure at work on the employee are the same wherever they’re found:

  • Increased risk of physical illnesses: Strokes, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease are all more likely due to overwork. This is because of a high incidence of metabolic syndrome
  • Possible substance issues: People who are overworked sometimes come to rely on alcohol or drugs to relax, which is a slippery slope to addiction
  • Malnutrition: An overworked employee simply might not have enough time to prepare food properly
  • Lack of sleep: Too much work, stress and pressure can cause disruption to sleep—and this just makes all of the above worse
  • Mental health issues: Stress, anxiety, depression and burnout are all far more likely

These are just some of the high workload effects on employees. Each one is serious and can spiral into even worse overworked symptoms if not addressed.

For example, people with higher stress levels every day have an increased risk of heart attacks.


Overworked employee rights

The government recognises the mental health risks that face employees who are overworked, meaning, they have laws protecting them.

  • Legally, most employees shouldn’t have to work more than 48 hours a week on average. You may be asked to opt-out of this but you can refuse. And you cannot be dismissed or treated adversely as a result.
  • The right to request flexible working. This can be denied, but you can ask to figure out the best course of action.
  • Employers should carry out a risk assessment—this includes stress and overwork.


If your mental or physical health is suffering due to too much office work—or any other kind of work— speak to your GP.

Stress, anxiety and depression are very serious issues, and you should make sure you’re getting all the help you need.


As always, PH7 Health is here to help. Access your PH7 x Company portal anytime for counselling support, the 24/7 helplines and more.


Are you an employer looking for ways to support your staff? Call or email us anytime to see how we can create a bespoke service to help. 01282 479 929.