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Why Do Some People Feel More Overworked Than Others?

Part 3: Demographic Differences


Group of People

Who is more overworked?

Ken Fisher / The Image Bank / Getty Images

The authors of the study also sought to answer the question: "Do Different Demographic Groups Feel More Or Less Overworked?" They came to the following conclusions:1

  • Women feel more overworked than men.
  • Baby Boomers (36-54) feel more overworked than Gen Xers/Millennials (18-35) and Mature Workers (55 and older).
  • Managers and professionals feel more overworked than others.
  • The mere presence of more family responsibilities is not associated with feeling more overworked.

Women respondents reported being interrupted more frequently while working than men. They also said they have more tasks to do at the same time. When the authors compared men and women who experience these problems with the same frequency, there was no gender difference in feeling overworked. "These findings raise important questions," say the authors: "Do women experience more frequent interruptions and too much multi-tasking because of the specific types of jobs they have? Do the socialization experiences of women make them more vulnerable to interruptions and more likely to take on additional tasks?"1

As for age differences, the authors report that baby boomers work significantly more hours, and prefer fewer hours, than do the other groups. While you can't change the group into which you fall, you can try to change the number of hours you work.

While the study shows that the presence of family responsibilties isn't associated with feeling overworked, the level of responsibility may be associated with it. The authors "suspect that differences between men and women with respect to primary responsibilites for family work might also help to explain why women feel more overworked than men."1 In other words, working mothers have more family responsibilites than do their male counterparts. Now this is an easy one to fix. Working parents need to look into implementing a more equitable division of labor.

Now you know why you may feel overworked and overwhelmed. I've even given you some solutions that may make you feel better. You may be thinking, "Why bother? It'll take too much effort to fix this problem." Well, when you find out the ramifications of feeling like this, you may think more seriously about implementing these solutions.

1. Galinsky, E., Kim, S., and Bond, J. Feeling Overworked: When Work Becomes Too Much. Families and Work Institute, 2001.

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