I was employed to take over tasks in the area A. Very quickly I was told to take over also area B and part of area C. These are big functional areas. I signalled my boss back then that the workload is huge and to do that well I would need to work 15 h/ day.

Additionally currently we are experiencing some technical problems, which means that many things in the areas A, B and C can't be performed automatically (they are completely automated in most companies). My boss told me to perform them manually. It's 1-3 h of repetitive, silly manual work EVERY SINGLE DAY. These problems are are only planned to be solved in about half a year. We also have additional technical emergencies, which my boss spontaneously assigns to me and which sometimes take several hours to solve. To give you an idea, when I'm OOO for a day, I then have 100 emails in my mail box, 90% of them resulting in work for me. Nobody is expected to take up my tasks if I'm not there.

My current workload is so huge, it's simply impossible for me to do my work correctly. Nobody would be able to perform it. It's completely unreasonable to expect me to be single-handedly responsible for 3-4 huge task areas.

Of course I raised this up with my boss - several times actually. I proposed solutions: assigning some of my work to one of my colleagues, outsourcing it, increasing my number of hours, prioritising tasks, etc. All solutions have been turned down repeatedly.

I'm looking for a new position like crazy of course. However I have two questions (I know on this site it's preferable to ask just one, but these are strongly related):

  • I will want references after leaving the current position. What should I do in order not to hear after giving in my notice that I've failed in everything or to minimise the influence of this assessment for my future career opportunities?

  • I don't really care about the quality of my work anymore. This is bound to fail, so I just can't make myself care anymore. My first reaction to the increased workload was to work through my lunch breaks, avoid even going to the toilet in order not to waste time, work unpaid overtime. But after several months, I'm just incredibly tired. How can I make myself care more or pretend I do (<- important in view of the references)?

  • 5
    I'm not sure there's much you can do. Just keep doing your best, keep applying for jobs, and either your employer will give you positive references or not.
    – Slothario
    Apr 30, 2018 at 19:00
  • Can you add a location, please? In some jurisdictions, giving a negative reference is a good way to get sued. Also, the local culture should be taken into consideration when answering your q's. Thanks. Apr 30, 2018 at 19:10
  • 1
    "How can I make myself care more or pretend I do (<- important in view of the references)?" - This I think is not really answerable here, although your first question is ok.
    – DarkCygnus
    Apr 30, 2018 at 19:13
  • 1
    Get other references from people you trust or know will give you a fair shake. You may still be asked to give this boss as a reference, but at least if he's not the only source, the interviewer will get a more complete picture of who you are.
    – Steve-O
    Apr 30, 2018 at 21:53
  • You should care more about your life and your health..Eight hours work a day, and if that isnt enough, the boss needs to hire more employees.
    – gnasher729
    May 1, 2018 at 20:00

2 Answers 2


From your question it seems:

  • You have 3 jobs instead of one.

  • You work twice as many hours per day.

  • Equipment is broken and won't be repaired for 6 months.

  • You have a hundred emails to deal with, but your boss has more fires for you to put out.

You (or no one else) can do all that, and no doubt more trouble will come (based upon the past).

You are hoping to leave soon, with a great reference ...

I wouldn't count on a good reference if you don't do most of the work without complaining.

Ask HR for a few weeks off, even if one week is unpaid. Now whom will do the work, not you.

You need to push back on this slave driving, unless they've quintupled your wages.

Expect not to get a good reference, slow your workpace to normal - don't have a stroke!

If you told us which country better answers might be forthcoming - are people lining up to take your place, why can't they hire someone to split the workload if that's the case.

You are paying to work there, ultimately for a poor reference and a lot of stress. Put your foot down or take bigger bites. Try to carefully deflect the poor outcome to the manager (in the owner's eyes), it's not effective management to shovel too much work onto a single person knowing that the end result will be low quality and uncompleted tasks. They must be trying to railroad you out the door, getting you to quit to save on severance.

Speak up politely, but firmly - try to find out why this is occurring. If they are too broke to hire additional staff and assign work poorly it's not a good place to stay. In some countries you can apply for Worker's compensation for stress leave - simply phoning them to ask might trigger a visit from an Inspector; if you are the only one being dumped on that may not get far.

If your boss can't replace you then you have some leverage; if you are easily replaced and not doing the unreasonable list of tasks then it's only a matter of time until they let you go.


I think it is all coming to one question. How big is the company you work for? If its Mom & Pap shop with your boss is also an owner etc - run.

If not, however , you have options, for example you can ask for transfer

Or letter to HR or to the owner, outlining the issues with list of what you have wrote here and complete breakdown of your time against task assigned to you. You can also attach all you have in the emails you sent to your immediate boss with same complaints.

In this case your reference can come from HR not from your supervisor

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