Help Overcommitted Employees Find Better Balance

Overcommitted Employees are often disguised as your best and highest performing team members. But they can also become your most stressed out, burned out, and pose the highest risk of leaving your company. Keep reading to learn the signs of overcommitment. And how you can help protect your employees from feeling they need to say “yes” to every project.

There are many factors in which overcommitted employees develop. Some are high performers with a natural tendency to take on a heavier workload. While others are the result of a toxic leadership team who won’t take “no” for an answer.

Managers who recognize the signs of an employee at risk for overcommitment, and have effective strategies in place to address it, can prevent burnout, improve job performance, and reduce turnover.

Why Do Employees Overcommit?

Many employees are great team players who enjoy a challenge. They are able to manage multiple tasks and are conscientious about submitting excellent work. If an employee maintains this work ethic for long periods of time, asks for help when needed, is upfront about projects that could exceed the deadline, and maintains a consistent positive demeanor, they probably have a great work-life balance and are not prone to overcommitment.

Overcommitted employees tend to have more swings in their performance and disposition. They are energized when taking on new projects and at the beginning of any new challenge. During the work phase, however, they become less productive and display negative emotions.

Employees overcommit for different reasons. Getting to the root cause can make it easier to help an employee find better balance.

Inexperienced but Eager to Learn

Inexperienced employees commonly overcommit out of a sense of insecurity. If they are still unsure about their own qualifications, they will set out to prove themselves or learn as quickly as possible. They have a sincere desire to do well in their work, but they mistake quantity of work for quality of work.

People Pleasers and Natural Helpers

Employees who appear to be overcommitted in every area of their lives are generally those who have a hard time saying no to anything. Often, they take on every request out of a genuine desire to be helpful. They have trouble setting boundaries and discerning when it’s okay to say no. They start most projects with enthusiasm, but they eventually become overwhelmed and allow things to slip through the cracks.

High Achievers and Perfectionists

Some people believe that always saying “yes” demonstrates their work ethic, commitment level, and ability to perform. They might also believe tasks get done more quickly and correctly if they do it themselves. Even though they may share how much is on their plate, they refuse help when others offer to lighten their load.

Overcommitted employees are not just at risk of mental burnout. There is also a higher risk of physical problems like diabetes, depression, poor sleep, autoimmune diseases, and adrenal fatigue. Click here to learn more.

Common Effects of Overcommitment

Overcommitment has an effect on the employees themselves and on their colleagues. Employees who take on too much are at risk of burnout, low job satisfaction, poor performance reviews, and illness. Employees who experience the most extreme effects of overcommitment might quit without notice or cause a disruption that results in disciplinary action or termination.

Colleagues of overcommitted employees experience frustration about missed deadlines, displays of emotion, and not being able to rely on that individual. The result is a less satisfying and productive workplace for everyone involved.

How to Prevent Overcommitment

Supervisors and HR managers can proactively prevent and address the risk of overcommitment by:

  • Maintaining a mentally healthy workforce by offering benefits such as Carebridge EAP
  • Regularly evaluating work loads and distribution of responsibilities
  • Staffing appropriately
  • Ensuring under-performing employees or workplace bullies aren’t causing other employees to overcommit
  • Creating a safe space where employees can safely discuss workload concerns without negative consequences
  • Providing ongoing manager trainings on topics such as empathy, workplace stress, and how to promote your EAP.

Reach out to our Sales team at to learn how Carebridge can help!