Overworked and My Boss Doesn’t Care

A question to Ask the Workplace Doctors regarding a lazy c0-worker:

“I’m  overworked and things are getting worse, but the boss doesn’t do anything about it.” 


Background: I have worked for this production based company in the printing industry for almost 6 years. I started as a customer service rep. I learned a little production work and helped out when it was busy. We’ve had some layoffs (I was victim to one, and was asked back 6 weeks later when they realized it was a mistake and that they needed me).

About a year after that, more layoffs and I was asked to help more in production, when it was busy and only temporarily until the economy bounced back and we’d rehire production staff. This quickly turned into long term and also turned into a FT job and my duties were being sacrificed. This was communicated and always was temporarily fixed and then back to square one. I interviewed and was offered a position elsewhere for a LARGE pay increase with fewer duties. I gave my notice, and was counter offered with a raise. I opted to stay since I enjoyed my work and for the raise, I was happy to take on the production work.

Fast forward to November 2012. Layoffs again, and this time the last official production guy gets nixed. Boss tells us that we’ll all need to chip in to do the work (but at the time we were slow and that was agreeable with all of us). It has now fallen 100% on me and I am overworked.

I am officially handling 3 FT positions. There are only 5 people in our location (including the boss). No pay raise (actually, we have not been given any raises in the 6 years I have been there.. merit or COL increase.. no reviews and they have cut our pay 5%, cut holiday bonus completely, no more 401k match, cut sick time in half and cut vacation time)

We also have 1 coworker who does absolutely nothing all day. There will be jobs to be done and he will be watching movies or perusing the internet. Boss is 100% aware and has done nothing. I know he has sent “generic” emails to the office stating that people need to pick up the slack but nothing comes of it. My “official” job duties again are now 6 full months behind and I am missing deadlines. What do I do!?

I am so fed up. I feel it’s a sexism issue as well as that my boss is completely afraid of confrontation. He says he sympathizes with me but I am getting nowhere and no relief. I really love my job and my customers and therefore really don’t want to leave (although I am interviewing). I feel that I am deserving of a raise (temps we have hired for a specific project… whose only duty is to unstaple documents… make more than me!) and I feel that this guy needs to be performance managed out.

HR is useless (in another state and does not return phone calls and emails, won’t fix past issues where I am owed pay from their mistake and I have been waiting for 7 months for forms for FMLA time I had taken). If I go to my boss’s boss, he’ll know it’s me and I am afraid of retaliation (see HR issues… they would be no help in that situation either). Please help!


If I Go


Dear If I Go:

You have convinced me that you feel overworked, mistreated and frustrated. Do these thoughts talk to you throughout the day; like a broken record in your head? Lest you think I have no empathy for you, I will resist suggesting: to eat one live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day!

Seriously, you have composed a no-win picture; layoffs, being overloaded and overworked, a coworker who does little, and a boss afraid of confrontation, useless HR and should you go to your boss’s boss you are afraid of retaliation. Can there be any improvement or should you look elsewhere as you did at one time, but were persuaded to stay where you were by a boost in pay?

You have seen work’s ups and downs and weathered them. You are at a crossroad and must face the fact that fight or flight is your option. You either confront or what’s not right will continue to eat at you and spoil even love you have for your customers.

I assume you have not spelled out in writing to your boss what you have sent to Ask the Workplace Doctors. Nor have you firmly expressed your anger about how work is maldistributed. In short, both the two most effective channels have not conveyed you indignation about what you attribute to “sexism”. If you have scanned our Archives enough to see my associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe’s advice, you would realize that there are constructive ways to express your frustration.

Are you at a point in which you can push aside working scared and being overworked and voice your frustration? Do you have the guts to engage your non-confrontational boss in an on-going collaborative effort to shape up your job so that you will continue? That’s the core issue on whether there is any way out of your plight. A one-time time-out session is no quick fix to the issues you raise. That’s why I suggest you must decide if you are willing for an on-going battle or if you had better attend to job hunting.

Does this make sense? You know the context of all that has caused you to come to a place of saying, “What do I do!? I am so fed up. . .Please help!” Work is hard enough without all the stress provoked by a boss who allows a coworker not to earn her pay and piles the work on you. This is not time for placing blame, but is it not a time for confronting free-riding and to interdependently collaborate to get your co-workers pedaling together? If you were a basketball team, one member would not be allowed to loaf. You would have weekly skull sessions reviewing what was going well and what needs correcting. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS is not something that just happens. The WEGOS payoff of a productive work-friendly place is earned by those who feel things aren’t well managed making their voice heard and putting it in bold print.

William Gorden