Overworked And Underpaid? Here Are The Possible Options For You To Scale

Other than the food we eat and perhaps sex, nothing is quite generally interesting than the size of our paychecks. Workers everywhere are keen to know whether their input at work matches their pay.

Discovering you are being underpaid is demoralizing but if you’re also being overworked, that’s a huge problem. You might be grateful to have a steady income with good benefits. On the flipside, some employers count on that in hopes that you won’t discern that you are working for less than your real worth. Your time and energy is a precious commodity — don’t devalue yourself to please your boss or anyone.

In this article, I’m going to be sharing possible options that will help you break free from the shackles of being overworked and underpaid.

Overworked and underpaid: An Overview

Being overworked and underpaid is real. No matter how your employer clads the words, the moment you start overshooting the agreed job responsibility without an increased pay and fair understanding reached can pass for overworked and underpaid.

In a professional career setting, almost all individuals at some point feel that they are overworked and underpaid. This feeling is usually caused by an impulsive reaction which leads to short-term frustration. You may have worked for hours on a project, but no one would have appreciated nor said thanks. When such a situation arises no one wins either the employer or the employee.

Overwork is a term used to specify when an employee feels that they are working too much, too hard, or for too long of a period of time. Feeling overworked can be likened to performing work beyond your capacity or abilities, resulting in mental overwhelm or distress.

Being overworked leaves the worker with the following consequences:

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Mental distress
  • A decline in health
  • High levels of stress
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Weakened immune system

While feeling overworked is certainly a common experience in today’s workforce, that doesn’t mean that it’s required to be successful at your job. Knowing the signs of overwork is important so that you can take action to reduce this feeling and remain healthy and productive.

On the other hand, being underpaid is not just a feeling, it is one of the factors that enhances the feeling of being overworked. According to Longman Business Dictionary, the adjective underpaid means paid less money more than you deserve for your work.

One of the major reasons why workers feel overworked is when the pay doesn’t match the amount of time and effort put into the job. While these may be mere claims, here are common signs and symptoms that an employee is overworked and underpaid.

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15 Signs That You Are Overworked and Underpaid

Here are a few signs that show that you are overworked and underpaid:

#1 You rely on stimulants to get work done

Reliance on stimulants like caffeine and alcohol can indicate that you are overworked. The moment you begin to feel exhausted and compelled to do a certain task and the use of stimulants comes to your mind first, just know that you are beginning to get overworked. While this may work well temporarily, it can have long-term health consequences such as increased blood pressure and heart rate.

#2 You experience stress injuries

A stress injury is when excess strain or stress is placed on a certain part of the body such as the hands, tendons, and feet. This is usually a result of overuse of a particular part of the body part, such as your fingers when typing, or from standing for long periods of time. So, if you’ve experienced one or more stress injuries, this can be a sign that you’re overworked.

#3 You feel depressed

Feeling overworked can easily lead to mental health conditions like depression. By being overworked, a greater part of your life is immersed in the work-life with little or less recourse given to other aspects of our lives. The more pressure and amount of work we take on, the more likely we are to experience this emotional impact.

Mental health conditions such as depression are a common sign of working too much and experiencing chronic stress as a result.

#4 Reduced interpersonal relationships

Spending a huge amount of time on work-related issues is exhausting and can take away your social and interpersonal life.

This way, you may begin to withdraw from friends and family or simply not attend events and get-togethers as often due to stress and fatigue.

Related: 40 Mind-Blowing Questions to Ask at a Career Fair

5. You experience a new wave of worsened anxiety

Just like depression, anxiety is another common mental health condition noticeable in overworked employees. Anxiety-related to overwork is frequently caused by feeling overwhelmed—like you don’t have enough time to accomplish all of your work and/or that you can’t keep up with your workload. Anxiety can also come as a result of lack of sleep or excess stress.

6. You dread going to work every day

The moment you start getting scared of going to work, know that the feeling of being overworked and/or underpaid has started creeping in.

As a matter of fact, many people feel that way because they are already convinced that they will never complete their tasks and meet all their deadlines. For such people, extra motivation is needed.

7. You have a challenging time completing even simple tasks at work

When the feeling of being overworked and underpaid sets in, your brain is often stressed and overwhelmed. This can make completing even the simplest tasks at work more challenging, which can ultimately lead to an increase in workload.

8. Your productivity has decreased

Oftentimes, lack of enthusiasm results from being overworked and underpaid. When this sets in, you begin to notice a decline in productivity.

9. You feel like there’s not enough time in the day

This is a major sign of being overwhelmed with work which often results in working overtime or taking your work home just to ensure you meet up with your tasks.

This often results when work that requires more hands is given to one person.

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10. You have trouble relaxing

Having difficulty relaxing is a sure sign of overwork and, possibly, burnout. Trouble relaxing is frequently caused by a person’s belief that they must always be “on” or ready to complete tasks that may arise at any time. Not being able to relax has negative mental and physical consequences, including increased stress and anxiety.

11. You’re losing or gaining weight

Overworked people may experience weight changes. This can be due to being so stressed that they don’t eat, resulting in weight loss, or turning to food as a stress reliever, resulting in weight gain. If you’ve noticed a change in your weight with no other explanation, you may be overworked.

12. You haven’t received a raise in more than two years

If you haven’t received a raise in more than two years, this is a sign that you’re underpaid. Most companies provide annual raises to their employees, while others do so based on merit or when employees are promoted. If you’ve worked in the same position for a long time and made a positive impact, but haven’t received a pay raise, it could be a sign you’re underpaid.

13. You earn less money than your colleagues in similar positions

Another sign that you are underpaid at work is if your coworkers in similar positions earn more than you. This is especially true if your coworkers have comparable experience and skills.

14. Your responsibilities have increased but your salary hasn’t

If you notice an increase in work responsibilities and nothing added to your salary, this may be a sign that you’re both overworked and underpaid.

Related: 10 Best Answers To ” What are You Passionate About?” Question In An Interview

15. You’ve lost the passion you once felt for your job

If you’ve lost the enthusiasm you once had for your job, this is an indication that you’re overworked. You may be spending too much time at work if you no longer look forward to or enjoy your job.

How To Tackle Being Overorked and Underpaid

Feeling overworked should be a rare occurrence at work. While at work you should feel energized, motivated, productive, and valued as an employee. Where these are not in place, here are steps to be taken. Though employers should be responsible for the well-being of their employees, there are some things you can do to create a good work-life balance for yourself.

#1 Know your worth and set boundaries

As an employee, it’s important you know your worth and set boundaries. The earlier you establish these boundaries and the more you follow them, the better your work-life balance will be.

For example, once you are done with work for the day, let your team know you will not be doing additional work until the next morning. This way you can fully enjoy your free time and spend time doing other things you love.

#2 Communicate with your manager

If you feel like you are overworked and underpaid, communicate this with your manager. They may not realize that you are feeling this way, so meeting with them will help them understand how you feel. Work together to figure out a plan to reduce your workload, give you a fair raise, or perhaps equity in the business.

#3 Take it one step at a time

Taking it one step at a time will help you productively complete tasks. Contrary to what many believe, you can only productively do one task at a time. Make a list of your tasks in order of importance, and then begin with the most important tasks first. Concentrate solely on the task at hand, and only consider the next one after you have completed the current one. When you have a lot on your to-do list, this will help you stay organized and relaxed.

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#4 Break down tasks

if one task will take a while to complete, you can break it up into different segments. This way, you won’t feel the pressure of workload. Once you complete a segment, you can take a break or work on a simpler task to still be productive while helping yourself re-energize. Choose tasks that require minimal brainpower or physical work.

#5 Make meaningful connections

Establish meaningful connections with your coworkers to build a support system at work. This way, you’ll have people to turn to if you’re feeling overworked. They may even offer to assist you with some of your tasks or express their own feelings. When an employer realizes that many of their employees are overworked, chances are that they may be more willing to make positive changes in the workplace.

#6 Decide if you should find a new job

Sometimes the answer to feeling overworked and underpaid is looking for a new workplace that values work-life balance and also rewards your input more than your current employer. While looking for a new job, ask the hiring manager about the company’s policy and workload. This will give you a little insight into how the company operates. Also, search the company online to see if previous employees have left reviews about it.

#7 Use your paid time off

Whenever you are given a paid time off by your employer, ensure you are getting enough rest and do what makes you happy. To reduce your stress, you may even choose to use one day of paid time off as a mental health day. By using the time off you need, you get energized for work and ready to be productive again.

FAQs On Overworked And Underpaid

Can you sue for being underpaid?

Yes, you can sue for being underpaid. First, you need to submit a claim through WHD (more on this below) and wait for WHD to investigate the claim

What are the major signs of being overworked?

There are various signs of being overworked. However, one of the major signs to look out for is when you find yourself no longer completing tasks and taking the workload home.

How can I handle being overworked in my workplace?

One of the best ways to handle being overworked in the workplace is by having a mutual conversation with the management.

What does it mean to be overworked and underpaid?

This simply means when you receive less monetary value for extra work done.


According to Forbes, speaking up for yourself is noble and important but, in all honesty, it doesn’t always go well. In fact, it can be destructive. Nonetheless, it is a step in the right direction.

Do not complain to others in the workplace about the situation else, you will influence others. Instead, go directly to the management. Ask if they have a moment to discuss a few things and, if necessary, set up a time to meet up and discuss. During the conversation, resist the temptation to be emotional.


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