How to stop your new hires from overworking

Young overworked male employee clearly stressed at work with his head in his hands

If your new hires overworking their way into burnout, you need to act fast to stop it

When companies don’t notice that their new hires are overworking, they begin to self destruct.

Overworking can feel more productive at first, but it isn’t sustainable.

If you don’t act fast enough to stop it, overworking employees can quickly morph into unhappy, burnt out hires.

When overworking can lead to poor performance, high turnover and toxic company culture, it’s vital that you know how to nip it in the bud.

What does overworking look like?

How can you recognise the signs of overworking in your new hires?

In the early stages overworking can look like:

  • Not taking breaks
  • Working late into the night or at weekends

And once it reaches burnout, it looks like:

  • Exhaustion and poor mood
  • Decreased productivity and bad performance
  • High turnover

Overworking has also been linked to an increased chance of heart disease and diabetes, so it’s an incredibly serious issue. It can also of course lead to various mental health issues too.

But it can be hard to spot, especially if your business is fully remote. Your employees could be overworking but just not replying to emails or marked as active on Slack – so how can you recognise it?

  • Have open conversations about working hours to find out what your new hires think is normal
  • Pay attention to the way your employees talk about their working habits
  • Pay attention to overperformance as it might be worth investigation

How can you stop your new hires from overworking?

When you run a small business, simply having one employee overworking can have serious effects.

So it’s important to tackle and stop overworking from the get-go with every one of your new hires.

1 – Address the cause

Overworking can happen for lots of different reasons.

Are you understaffed? Are your employees scared to let their performance slip?

But when it comes to new junior hires you can normally narrow these down, especially if you’re working remotely.

When your first proper job is a remote role it can be hard to know what is actually normal. Your new hires might go to log off at 5:01pm and see their team members are still active. Not wanting to be the first to log off, they might start working on something new.

Before you know it, it’s 6:21pm and they’re only just now logging off.

Something like a little green active sign on Slack can influence your employees to work longer hours for the sake of appearances.

It’s natural to want to be seen as the most dedicated person in the room when you think long hours will be rewarded.

Young employee working long hours at her desk with her laptop.

2 – Refine your onboarding process

The purpose of onboarding is to introduce your new hires to the way your company works. So if your onboarding doesn’t even touch the subject of company culture or good working practices, you’re missing a trick.

To build a culture that values your employee’s health and long-term happiness, you need to talk about healthy working.

Encourage your employees to be open and honest with you in these early stages. Hopefully this will make them more likely to report that they feel overworked in the future.

3 – Work and life boundaries

Do your employees have clear boundaries between their lives and work?

When they do, it’s easy for them to switch off after they clock out. They enjoy their weekends without thinking about work.

When they don’t, they are far more likely to work outside of their usual hours, worry about their tasks ahead and get stressed.

If your team is working from home, it’s a good idea to check that they’re taking proper breaks and that they’re not working from their bed or the sofa. And when you have a clear office area in your home, it’s easier to move away from it and out of ‘work mode’ at the end of the day.

4 – Turn off notifications

Nothing is more jarring than getting a Slack notification outside of working hours. Something as simple as this can make your employees start working again and ruin their rest.

In a recent update Slack released a feature that lets you schedule messages, which should help immensely with this problem.

Another thing you could do is discourage new hires from downloading Slack on their phones altogether, or simply have their notifications disabled. This will help keep them from opening the app out of hours.

5 – Lead by example

Every manager and business owner should be leading by example.

When your boss works long hours and weekends, employees take this as an indication that it’s what you expect of them – that it’s normal.

But when you openly talk about your plans straight after work, your breaks and what you did at the weekend, you encourage your team to follow in your footsteps and prioritise rest.

This also helps with the issue of notifications. When your boss messages, emails or even calls you outside of hours it can make you feel guilty for resting. So try to keep out of hours communications to a minimum.

If you need any help finding and onboarding talented juniors, sign up to DigitalGrads and get in touch with our experts today.