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Not enough work, what to do?

Q: I work in the Quality sector of a biotech company and I have been here for about two years. The people I work with are great. The only thing that is bothering me is the work load, or lack thereof. As of today, we currently have two full-time workers (including myself) in our group working with our database. We each probably have a full total of about five hours of work a day (leaving us with three hours of nothing to do). My boss is aware of this. My boss' supervisor is adamant on hiring a temp worker to add to our group which would take more work away from myself and current co-worker. There is no need for another person as the two of us already do not have enough work. However, the supervisor does not want to lose the temp spot they had approved. HELP!

A: You are smart to be watchful of your company's investment in headcount. I can think of a few options for you to consider, which I have outlined below:

1. Follow your supervisor's lead, even though you may disagree with your supervisor's recommendation. Your supervisor may be privy to information that you are not aware of, including a possible uptick in your department's workload. Depending upon your relationship with your supervisor, you could ask why there is a need for a temporary person to be added. Perhaps the hiring of the temporary employee could be delayed?

2. Think about ways your group could absorb more work beyond what your group does now. Expand your roles to fit the headcount. Think about your next role in your career. Are there responsibilities which could take on that expose you to higher level problem solving or fine tine some of your technical skills? You would need your supervisor's support, however this could be a career-expanding move for all of you. Are there procedures that could be written or updated? Are there systems which should be audited? Is there a system for complaints and if so, can it be improved?

When I was young and I would complain of boredom, my mother would reply, "If you can't find something to do, I will find something for you to do. You can clean your room." In short, I would rather have you expand your role and be able to choose some higher level responsibilities (which could enhance your role and your value to the company) rather than be given more mundane, routine responsibilities.

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