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RISMEDIA, July 26, 2011—(MCT)—The do-more-with-less workplace is taking a toll. Employees who are doing the work that two, three, maybe even four co-workers used to share are worn out.

But even workers with a stellar work ethic fear telling their bosses. Admit to overload? You may be next on the layoff list.

Unfortunately, when good workers continue to grin and bear it, the work continues to pile on. Their productivity meets employers’ needs, and there’s no sign that hiring will ramp up any time soon.

So what to do if you’re at the breaking point?

You need to speak up—but not with a complaint about how you’re stressed or overworked. You have to talk about efficiency and output and how the company is affected.

Fair warning: That’s not always possible. And it may not produce any changes. But it’s the only way to be heard.

To attack the problem from a company perspective, you need to know what’s important to the organization. If staff is seen as dispensable or replaceable, you won’t make headway.

But if employees have key skills or experience that would be hard or costly to replace, that’s your ace in the hole.

If there’s a way to calmly say that your long work hours and stressful environment aren’t sustainable—and be able to point to key staff losses that have occurred—you may be heard.

Also, if you see a more efficient way to distribute work among the staff, go in with a plan. Don’t say, “I can’t do any more.” Say, “I’ve analyzed our production, and here’s a way we can do things better.”

If there are staff members who somehow have escaped heavier workloads, you have to be courageous to point that out. But it must be done diplomatically. You can’t be seen as airing a petty grievance.

Again, what’s in it for the company? Is the organization getting the best out of everyone it employs? If there’s fallow talent, for whatever reason, executives who can fix it should want to know.

Just be careful. Be sure you have the facts and a realistic plan. You need to avoid the office politic minefield that might trip up your best intentions.

(c) 2011, The Kansas City Star.