In 2019, a survey by CareerCast discovered that the role of event coordinator ranked 6th on a list of stressful jobs for the year. To many, this may come as a surprise. But the truth is, event planners know perfectly well how easy it is to become overwhelmed, feel overworked, and constantly be this close to quitting when working in the event planning industry.
Now, it is true that the way people deal with stress comes down to their sensitivity, their stress-managing practices, and the extent to which they are willing to invest in their mental health to cope (in a healthy way) with the demands of the job.
Nonetheless, if you’re a team leader or employer, you need to learn to recognize the signs of your team being overworked. Only then can you take appropriate action to help your employees protect their physical and emotional well-being. It will also ensure the efficiency of your entire business and guarantee the satisfaction of your customers.
So, if you’re looking for tips for making event planning less stressful and more enjoyable, here are a few ways to recognize that your team is overworked and needs a break or a helping hand.
Why Working More Doesn’t Equal Better Results
Before we take a deep dive into recognizing the signs that your employees are overworked, let’s take a moment to reflect on the importance of establishing a balanced approach to work in your business.
First and foremost, you need to understand that working more doesn’t necessarily provide businesses with tangible benefits. True, taking on an increased workload (in the short term) can help your team accomplish the desired results. However, when you keep working at an unsustainable pace for too long, there are bound to be some side effects, most notably in the form of burnout.
Secondly, research shows that the way to increase productivity may be to reduce workload. One research team discovered that the benefits of a reduced workload include greater productivity, lower turnover rates, cost savings, and co-worker development. And another study found that a 25% reduction in weekly work hours for full-time employees improved sleep and alertness and reduced work-related stress.
Signs Your Team Is Overworked
When it comes to recognizing the signs of an overworked team/employee, there are five main points to which you need to pay attention.
1. Reduced Productivity
The first indicator of your event planning staff being overworked is a dip in productivity. In general, if your employees can’t do the same amount of work they used to, or if they’re working longer hours without increasing their output, you can safely assume that there are issues affecting their productivity levels.
In some cases, the causes of a productivity dip can be as simple as having an off day, a poor night’s sleep — which can easily be solved by optimizing one’s sleep environment — or a minor health issue like a cold or flu that’s affecting your team’s ability to focus.
But, if the productivity dip lasts longer than a couple of days, you can rightfully suspect there’s something more serious at the root of it. Common productivity obstacles can include unforeseen tasks, unclear goals, or a lack of access to the required tools and resources. However, if you’re worried about your event planning team being overworked, the most likely cause of reduced productivity is simply that your teammates have too much on their plates.
To gauge whether this is the case, you must have a complete overview of what your event planners are doing. The easiest way to accomplish this is to use a project management software like Basecamp or Asana. Alternatively, you can utilize any other project management tool (yes, Google Calendar can work just as well).
What matters is that you have a way to track how much work your employees are juggling on a day-to-day basis and work alongside them to recognize and re-distribute the work that’s superfluous, low-priority, or which can be outsourced. Additionally, consider automating low-value and menial tasks to free up your team’s time for work, which is interesting, inspiring, and positively affects your business’s bottom line.
2. Interpersonal Issues
Poor workplace culture isn’t necessarily a consequence of an unmanageable workload. However, the sudden appearance of interpersonal issues might signal an unrecognized and unaddressed state of employee burnout.
If you notice that the atmosphere in your organization is a bit too chilly as of late, if you witness (or hear about) emotional outbursts, or see that some of your event planners are looking like they’re not coping too well, it might be time to re-think the workload.
The best way to approach the situation is to have open, honest, and safe conversations with your teammates to identify the main issues bothering them and discover ways to resolve them. Alternatively, you could employ an employee feedback system like Vetter, which allows your team to provide feedback via an anonymous online suggestion box.
According to statistical data, between 2018 and 2021, absenteeism rates in the US grew by approximately 10%. The two most common reasons for this include illness and personal reasons — like time off for running errands or taking vacations — which can indicate that your employees need additional time to rest and recover from their stressful jobs.
However, the one thing you need to remember when it comes to absenteeism is that missing a day, or even a week of work, could be the least of your problems if your event planners are overworked. Deloitte’s 2022 Workplace Burnout Survey found that 77% of workers have experienced burnout at their current place of work. And more importantly, 42% of people have already left a job due to feeling burned out.
For this reason, it is essential for you, as a leader, to encourage your team to take time away from work. Understand that doing this doesn’t just mean providing some PTO (in case you’re wondering, US workers get an average of 15 paid vacation days per year). More importantly, it means encouraging your employees to prioritize their health and well-being, respecting their boundaries, and setting an example by not sending emails at 2 A.M. or normalizing behavior like checking into work from a vacation.
4. Lack of Vision & Motivation
In some cases, the best indicator of your event planners being overworked is that their ideas suddenly start to lack that touch of je ne sais quoi that previously made them so great at their jobs.
If you feel like there’s an absence of vision, motivation, or even inspiration from your team, the best thing to do is to take a step back and re-examine. Ask yourself: is there anything you, as a leader, can do to inject a much-needed dose of inspiration into your team dynamics?
Perhaps a fun team-building activity, like paddleboarding, could help everyone unwind and recover from the stress of the job.
Or, the problem may have less to do with being overworked and more to do with a lack of clear communication. If this is the case, ensure you communicate the why behind company policies and include your employees in decision-making processes that affect their day-to-day activities.
Finally, don’t underestimate the positive effect of giving your team members autonomy. Research from McKinsey discovered employees want independence, and not just in terms of what projects they work on but also in terms of how they go about their day-to-day jobs.
Plus, encouraging employee autonomy might prove to be the key to retaining top talent in a world where a growing number of people are willing to quit their jobs to pursue their dreams and a better work-life balance.
Keeping your employees healthy and happy isn’t just an extra benefit of running a people-oriented organization. It’s an absolute must if you’re looking to build a business that will deliver results well into the future.
So, if you’re aiming to boost productivity levels or increase the quality of your event planning services, it’s not a bad idea to look out for the signs of your team being overworked. This will not only help you nip eventual problems in the bud but also give you a chance to increase employee satisfaction. And that will, undoubtedly, result in your clients being happier as well.