I am talking with a friend who is nearly at his wit’s end.
“My team at work is grossly under-resourced,” he says. “It’s wiping us out physically and emotionally. I’m begging for help, and management turns its face away.”
“What are you going to do?” I ask.
“Triage,” he says. “It’s all we can do. Triage. Some things just won’t get done. I’ll be blamed if things blow up, but I can’t work my people to death.”
We talk about what triage means. Simply translated: if no crises erupt, they will eke by if they do the bare minimum. There’s just too much of the “bare minimum.”
Given the business his company is in, a crisis is inevitable.
He’s also keeping a record.
In Not So Fat: Slow-Down Solutions for Frenzied Families, author Ann Kroeker says we need to allow our children to have a childhood. We need to stop overscheduling and overpreparing them to meet the world’s standard for success, if for no other reason that we’re setting the stage for their ultimate failure.
I have a corollary. We need to allow adults to have an adulthood, too. We need to stop piling work on people already grossly overworked.
This isn’t a new problem. More than a hundred years ago, Mark Twain observed that it was characteristically American for businessmen to always try to get by shorthanded.
Millions of people have quite the labor force in despair over finding employment, while millions more face chronic overwork. Both create massive stresses and pressures on families.
No, the problem isn’t new. But it has an urgency today, because the family is under siege like it’s never been before.
We can make a choice to slow the frenzy down for our children. And we need to start talking about how to slow down the frenzy in the workplace. If I had a magic wand about overwork, I'd wave it. But we need to start talking about it.