10 Best Ways To Deal With Employees Who Complain About Workload  

As many businesses start returning to the workplace or employing some form of remote or hybrid work, one thing remains the same – employees who feel as if they have too much on their plate. It is important to understand the ramifications of employees who have excessive complaints because it could severely affect the culture of your business no matter how or where they work.

The overall goal is to ensure employees have the tools and resources they need to get the job done effectively and efficiently. While there are some businesses still suffering from a lack of workers, these types of situations are usually random and have nothing to do with temporary occurrences. When dealing with employees who don’t like their working environment or workload, there are a few things you can do to circumvent or handle the issue.

There should be a few scenarios for something like this when hiring employees. The way they respond may provide a snapshot of how they will deal with situations where they are given extra work or must pull the weight of someone else. Being able to hear their responses can give insight into whether this will be a problematic employee.

There are a few things to consider when dealing with employees who complain about workload:

  • How long have they been complaining?
  • Are they being treated differently?
  • Is the work outside their scope?
  • Why do they feel they have too much work?
  • Are they known for causing drama?

This sets the standard for moving forward. Here are some suggestions that may help:

1. Do not ignore them

It’s important to address any issues like this as they occur. This alerts the staff that you are aware of the situation and are taking the allegations seriously. Companies that have high values and standards nurture their culture. That means there is no opportunity for complaints among employees because open feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

2. Make sure they understand the expectations of the role

In many instances, employees who complain about workload are doing so because they don’t have a standard of behavior, or expectations to follow. If your business does not have accountability practices in place, this leaves an open lane for complaints from those employees who complain about workload on a continuous basis.

3. Start with the work environment

Employees of a business should always feel as if they are part of a larger culture. They should feel motivated and happy with the work they do. When employees feel this way, complaints are far and few between. A grievance system should already be in place – if not with the manager, then with the human resources department to make sure the employee does not experience some form of retaliation because they want to be treated fairly.

4. Welcome input

If the company is changing or there are some things within the environment that could be improved, there should be a system in place where employees can give their input on making the workplace more productive and efficient. Managers who have an open rapport with their employees know what’s going on before things get out of hand. Having conversations with employees, giving surveys, and open reviews can help, especially when areas of improvement that were suggested are implemented or discussed.

Read More: What Would You Like Your Manager To Do Differently? Real Feedback From Employees

5. Be approachable

One of the worst things for an employee is to have a manager or HR department that penalizes them for speaking up. Being approachable goes a very long way in getting employees to not whisper or complain behind management’s back. A culture where employees are afraid to say something, even when it’s wrong, is a recipe for disaster.

6. Know your employees

Managers that take the time in getting to know their employees can diffuse negative situations quickly. When you hear of employees who complain about workload, these managers know exactly who is complaining and why. It is not difficult to spot employees that love drama or are problematic. Knowing who your employees are and how to deal with them shows a level of dedication and attentiveness to your staff and the company.

7. Have staff meetings

A staff meeting is a great place for employees to discuss their grievances. This should be a safe space where everyone is allowed to speak without fear of repercussions. In some instances, the manager may not know or understand the level of pressure the employees are experiencing because they are not unruly. Staff meetings should have a clear agenda with a line item to discuss workload. This way, there is no question about what is going on, who is working on what, and if additional resources or employees are needed to get the job done.

8. Talk to the employee

While it’s important not to ignore the employee, there are times when managers appear to listen to the employee and their gripes, but they really don’t. It’s important to have a constructive and productive conversation with the employee to make sure you fully understand why they are complaining and hear their issues without bias.

This is also an opportunity to let the employee know that they are harming the overall culture in the workplace, and their behavior should be curtailed while the issue is being worked out. It is important to fully hear and engage the employee without attacking them or making them feel as if they are being attacked.

If the employee is being unruly, this is a good time to set boundaries and possibly issue a warning about their behavior. There should be some suggestions on how they can make their grievances known without causing a stir among the other employees.

Read More: How to Deal with Lack of Resources at Work – The Ultimate Guide

9. Attempt to work out a solution

There may be legitimate issues with how the workload is being distributed in the department that you may not be aware of. There can be instances where the employee is being given additional work from a supervisor that was not authorized by the manager, or they are doing someone else’s work so the department will not fall behind.

If this is an issue within the department, a discussion should be had with the employee and, in some cases, the supervisor to find out why the employee is being given extra work when it should be properly distributed. In other cases, it may be that there is just too much work for one person and there needs to be another person in the department that can also help with the workload. If this is the case, escalating the issue with human resources is the next step.

10. Know when to escalate the issue

As a manager, if you speak to the employee and cannot get them to cooperate in terms of working out a resolution, it’s time to call the human resources department for assistance. Once you hand it off to HR, you should have a record of when you spoke to the employee, what they said, what you said, and the steps you attempted to take. Human resources will be able to take things a little further in attempting to find out the core of the grievance and then work with the manager to resolve the situation if possible.

A lot of these situations can be curtailed with solid policies and procedures outlined in the employee handbook. Every employee should receive one when being hired, and this should also be a part of ongoing training. This also gives the company leverage in the event the employee must be reprimanded, warned, or terminated due to their disruptive and unruly behavior.

If the complaint is not coming from someone who is known to cause drama in the workplace, this is a clear indication that something is seriously wrong. The key is knowing how to properly address every situation the right way. There are people in the workplace who, no matter what you do, will find something to complain about. These types of people should not be allowed to affect the environment and work culture.

Having a fair and equitable workplace is always the best solution, but there are times when employees may have to take on extra work. The manager and supervisor should be able to distribute the work evenly or get another employee in to assist as soon as possible. The goal is to always consider employees and their abilities. Taking a backseat and allowing the work to pile up is one of the best ways to lower morale and increase employee turnover.

These ten best ways to deal with employees who complain about workload should be a basis for developing a working system that alleviates or prevents these types of situations from occurring in the workplace.

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About Author

Founder of With over 20 years of experience in HR and various roles in corporate world, Jenny shares tips and advice to help professionals advance in their careers. Her blog is a go-to resource for anyone looking to improve their skills, land their dream job, or make a career change.

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