Halloween may be over, but “ghost work”—the work left behind after colleagues are laid off—still haunts the employees who remain.
According to a recent survey by the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), admins are hit particularly hard by the spectre. More than a third of respondents (40%) have seen support staff at their companies decrease over the past three years, and nearly half report that their workload has increased.
“There’s a tendency not to cut job duties when companies are downsizing, but rather to transfer these functions over to workers who are multitalented,” says Susan Fenner, Ph.D, education manager at IAAP. “Those people are administrative professionals.”
Struggling with ghost work? Don’t be frightened.
Here are three tips to help you gain control:
1. Bolster your efficiency with training. “The problem with ghost work is that employees not only have more work to do but aren’t very efficient at it, since they may not have the knowledge they need to do it well,” consultant and author Hamilton Beazley tells The Wall Street Journal.
The result? Lower productivity and a demoralized feeling. Even if you can’t control the extra work, you can suggest specific software training or professional development that would boost your productivity (and keep you from burning out).
2. Shed tasks that aren’t critical. If prioritizing tasks still leaves critical work undone, you can only do one thing: work smarter. Tip: Sit down with your boss to evaluate all the work you do together. Can you shed or simplify regular tasks? Try using a whiteboard to list top-priority tasks.
3. Keep a reasonable schedule. If you are already working at full steam, coming in early or working late an hour every day isn’t the solution. It may work for a short time, but it’s not a sustainable habit. Take time to rejuvenate daily.
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