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How to make your employees take on more responsibilities (without burdening them)

Seema Gurnani
23rd Dec 2016
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“Out of an eagerness to prove yourself, you’ve taken on a number of responsibilities that fall well outside the realm of your core role. But how much of this newfound accountability is contributing to your professional advancement?” – Melody Wilding, Professor of human behaviour

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Often, it is noticed that smaller organisations, in lack of a functioning human resource department, give certain additional tasks to the existing employees, which the latter happily accepts. There are organisations where an executive also takes interviews when needed. There are organisations where a manager also manages all the reimbursements because they don’t have a functioning accounts department. At times, employees take on more responsibilities out of excitement or curiosity. After a while, this added responsibility becomes a burden because it contributes nothing to their productivity.

As a good manager, it is important to recognise these factors and make sure that employees don’t start feeling demotivated due to their workload. The first step to ensure this is to appreciate the employees for their hard work. Small efforts of appreciation can motivate them and validate their contribution to a large extent. A research from Wharton School of Business suggests that even a small ‘thank you’ note can significantly increase motivation levels.

When it comes to additional responsibilities, it is very important to make sure that employees who take additional workload are being incentivised for their additional efforts. For an organisation, it is very important to create a set of rules to offer incentives. Consider, for example, an employee who takes up the additional duty of HR and conducts interviews during their free time. For them, juggling between their assigned tasks and their extra tasks is quite a challenge. As a manager, it is your duty to recognise these issues and start the incentive process to make them feel appreciated for their contribution. Remember, lack of appreciation can lead even the most loyal employee to quit their job and move on.

Apart from incentives, gratification is a very important process. This gratification can vary from a monthly ‘employee of the month’ title to a gift for their contribution to the workplace. You must have noticed how occasional bonuses increase productivity and help create a happy workplace. Titles like ‘employee of the month’ not only motivate the employee who takes the additional tasks but also prompts the fellow co-workers to show their enthusiasm when it comes to additional tasks. Gifting on occasions like Diwali and Christmas also helps improve the employee motivation.

It is important to make sure that in the lack of a functioning HR department, a basic plan is chalked out that ensures that those few employees who take on additional roles don’t end up feeling overburdened. As a manager, the extra work should be divided among all the members of the organisation equally. Besides ensuring that no employee is overworked, it will also create a smooth process within the organisation. This process will make sure that any extra work carried out in the organisation is finished on time and there is always someone ready to take the responsibility when the person in-charge is busy or unavailable. It is very important to keep your employees motivated when there is extra pressure on work within the organisation.

Often, overworked employees simply end up suffering silently as they cannot directly refuse the senior management. This makes it very important for senior managers to identify these key points and work towards the betterment of their workforce.

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