7 Steps to Effective Workload Planning

Is it possible to prioritize your team's wellbeing while also getting your projects done on time?...Yes! You just need to take workload planning seriously.
Mae Angeline
July 21, 2022

Office workload planning may seem like a never-ending process of assigning tasks, chasing them, and receiving a new batch before the last lot is finished. And as the project manager, you're not the only one feeling the pressure.

According to the 2021 study by the American Psychological Association, 50% of employees ranked heavy workloads as one of the key stressors in the workplace. It significantly impacts employees' stress levels at work, which could lead to failure to deliver high quality work - both for individual team members, and the whole team in general.

However, an effective workload management process allows you to prioritize your team's wellbeing, while also getting your projects completed on time, and on budget.

To make this happen, we've outlined seven steps to guide you in creating an excellent workload plan to manage employee workload effectively. Let's get started!

What is workload planning, and why is it important?

Firstly, we need to define what workload planning is. Workload planning, or workload management, is the careful distribution of tasks among team members depending on their skills, utilization, and performance. It involves planning the incoming, current, and future workload according to available resources and time.

Effective workload management is essential because it increases employee performance and productivity. When an excellent workload management plan is implemented, team workload issues such as unbalanced distribution of tasks, work overload, burnout, and stress can be reduced or even eliminated. Proper planning also helps employees remain focused on tasks at hand and prevents them from exceeding time and cost limits.

Workload management also includes minute details such as progress percentages and constraints in schedule or external conditions. Information such as this can be instrumental in evaluating employee performance, retention, turnover rates, team member capacity and utilization rates, and implementation of project schedules.

Assessment of current workload helps to maximize productivity, ensure organizational health, optimize resource allocation, and maintain a balanced workload even on complex projects.

How poor workload planning can hurt your team

When a team lacks effective workload planning, managing work can be a chore for individuals and the whole team.

Here are some of the consequences of having poor workload management:

  • Less urgent tasks may be affected and abandoned, causing under-quality deliverables or unaccomplished administrative tasks
  • Setbacks on milestones, communication, and production in the entire organization
  • Increased risk of stress on employees, affecting their health and capabilities
  • Other teams may be impacted when everyone's workload piles up and creates spillovers
  • Delays in commitment schedules begin a downturn in client's trust
  • Overworked employees who are less engaged feel detached and unsatisfied with their work
  • Increased employee turnover rate
  • Uptick in non-billable work as new hires need to be trained and onboarded

Poor workload planning affects not only the operational side of your team, but also adversely affects team members psychologically, which can hinder overall project completion.

7 steps to effectively plan your team's workload

If you want a more effective approach to manage workloads within your team, follow this seven-step guide.

1. Take a look at the big picture

As a project manager, designing a plan for the team's workload comes from project information. These may include project objectives, forecasts, budgets, personal goals, and meeting schedules.

So first, step back to see the project's overall scope and the difficulty level and range that your team needs to work on. Next, take a good look at where your team is and how you decided on the distribution of their current workload.

This information will help allocate tasks according to the capacity and availability of resources, especially human resources.

2. Review tasks of each team member

Effectively manage workload by taking task management into account. Start by organizing all tasks according to importance, size, and timeline. No matter how small the organization may be, there will always be tasks of higher importance, and this is where prioritization should take place.

Setting a distinction on what the team will focus on allows you to prioritize tasks and make the highest priority work conform to every situation in case team members need to adjust and adapt.

3. Consider the team's workload capacity

Capacity planning is essential to planning the workload because it prevents an overload of responsibilities and the fair distribution of tasks according to the team's capacity. Keep track of team members' holidays, sick days, full-time and part-time availability, and the schedule of contractual or third-party experts hired by your team.

By recognizing each employee's function and availability, and lining that up with the due dates of your projects, it becomes easier to plot tasks against each person's capacity.

4. Assign tasks strategically

Now that you have listed and categorized tasks and looked into your team's capacity, you can start assigning work to your team members. Delegate tasks according to their skill set and account for each task's dependencies linked to another task.

Dividing project work into smaller tasks or subtasks also helps to avoid multitasking and taking on unplanned new tasks. Allocate and reassign tasks if needed, making sure that balancing team workload is the primary goal.

Also, remember that realistic deadlines are as essential as task management. It helps save time in the long run, instead of passing the task back and forth to adjust its quality, rather than just submitting one with excellent value.

5. Monitor schedules

Keeping up to date with everyone's assigned tasks can be tricky, especially when you already have millions of things on your mind. However, today's technology allows you to easily oversee schedules using a resource management tool, so that you can see who's doing what and where your projects are up to.

Good team management tools often include the facility for time tracking, calculating utilization rates for performance analysis, and keeping an eye on consumed billable hours.

If you're unsure if your team is already handling an unbalanced workload, you can keep track of signs and find a way to distribute them evenly with our guide on workload distribution.

6. Recognize the importance of feedback

When it comes to proper workload management, important feedback between project managers and the team can make a big difference. Listening to your team members when constructing an effective workload management plan is essential. Connect and create rapport between and among your team, and maintain open lines of communication.

Specialists may have a higher risk of being assigned the highest priority tasks, so be sure to have chats with them frequently. Working on too many projects at once may also compromise your team's interest and motivation, especially if there are no mental or physical breaks. Prevent burnout and stress by managing heavy workloads effectively.

7. Use reliable workload management tools

Having a reliable way to visualize your team's workload can be advantageous for you and your team. Workload management tools can improve productivity and supervision of individual and team tasks. It keeps work progress on track as a work management tool concentrates on workload planning and implementation.

It also helps manage team members' workloads by putting together all the steps made above into one place you can quickly look at and review.

A workload management tool also guides you in allocating resources for future or current use, especially for employees assigned to complex tasks and multiple projects.

Make workload management easy

Using a work management tool to help plan your team's workload benefits you and your team. It offers transparency to task management and empowers your team members to have control over the volume of their work, helps you glance at what everyone is doing, and allows you to improve and optimize overall workload planning.

However, selecting a tool that will simplify workload management may be confusing, since everything on the market offers a different package.

Runn offers a comprehensive suite of resource management features, all in an elegant interface that is intuitive and easy to learn. It also makes it incredibly clear to see if a team member is overbooked, at capacity, or under-utilized, giving you the birds-eye-view you need to help strategize a workload plan that suits your ongoing and future projects.

Runn also lets you personalize individual work hours, availability, utilization, and revenue. In addition, it allows you to tag individuals by their skills and their location, making it simpler to assign roles for smooth delegation of tasks.

Workload planning and management can be a breeze when you know which tasks to prioritize, what tasks to assign to your team members depending on their capacity, and have a platform where you can pool all this information and records.

Whether for small teams, new ventures, or entire organizations, Runn is an easy-to-use solution for keeping workloads realistic for you to set achievable deadlines. Manage your team's workload and create efficient plans with just a few clicks, updated in real-time, for hassle-free resource visibility. Let us help you by booking a demo with us today!

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