There are a lot of stressors and difficulties today. We’re still in the thick of a pandemic and many people are still struggling financially. The work you do may also have unprecedented difficulties due to the pandemic. It’s more stressful to wear masks and keep social distancing. It seems like there are all kinds of reasons to feel stressed or overwhelmed at work. At what point do you talk to your boss that you’re overwhelmed?  

Telling Your Boss You’re Overwhelmed 

Feeling some stress on the job is really a normal part of work. But feeling overwhelmed to the point where you are unable to cope, anxious, or even nauseous, isn’t healthy for anyone.  
If you are burning out on your job or feel overwhelmed, the only way things are going to change is if you ask for help. In this situation, your boss is the best advocate you can have on the job. It’s a good idea to plan out in advance what you’ll say so that you’re not speaking in the heat of the moment where your frustration could be misconstrued. Also, if the issue is mental health-related, many companies have employee assistance programs (EAPs) that your HR team could help you leverage. 

With that said, sometimes the source of the problem is your boss itself. Try to determine if HR could be an alternative resource to seek some assistance with the issues you’re facing. Ideally, we’d hope your boss is a great resource—but the reality is sometimes some bosses could be less than desirable. 

Identify the source of your stress so you can figure out the kind of help you want. Is the issue that there’s a coworker that is causing you more work or disruption? Is the problem at home? Do you need time off? Think about what is causing you to feel so overwhelmed, which will, in turn, help you figure out how you want your boss to help. For example, if you have an ill family member at home, perhaps some work-from-home alternative time could help. Could flex time help? Do you feel like you have more work than you can handle? Would it help if your boss helped you delegate some tasks to someone else?  

Once you’ve figured out what the big issue or issues are causing so many problems, it’s time to speak with your boss. Have the conversation in person if you can. An email or even an instant message could easily be misconstrued. Delicate conversations could be handled by Zoom, but you do want to be able to see each other’s faces during the conversation. A good way to phrase the conversation is to start simply with, “I’m feeling overwhelmed and I hope you can help me.” Go on to explain the situation and that you’re sharing what’s going on because you want to be an excellent employee that represents your boss and the company well.  

Try to be as specific as possible and work together with your boss to come up with a solution that is a win for you and your team. 

If your situation doesn’t improve, there are also alternative jobs out there that may improve the level of stress you’re under. Talk with the team at People Plus. We specialize in matching employees with great jobs with solid work environments that help them move forward. Call on us.  

Feb 20, 2021 By Amy Sanderson