Is there any common word or expression for saying "to unload worker"? It doesn't matter what kind of workers they are - the point is - what's the right word for how to say "take some scope of work off some person"? I guess "unload" is inapplicable when talking about a person, or am I wrong?

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    Reducing the scope of their responsibilities could be different from reducing the mere amount of work they do. Is reducing the scope of their responsibilities central to your question?
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 12:44
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    I believe the direct object of the verb to unload is the load itself, not the bearer of the load. As in, “Please unload five cartons from the truck.” So in that sense, unloading a worker would mean firing them. Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 18:41
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    We actually have both uses in English, too; you can unload the groceries from the car, and you can also just unload the car and they generally mean the same thing. But idiomatically, we don't tend to use either phrase about people (maybe because we don't think about people as cargo carriers).
    – 1006a
    Commented Apr 19, 2017 at 21:01
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    "reduce the load"
    – Jim Balter
    Commented Apr 20, 2017 at 7:10
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    If you say “unload a worker” in English you'll likely be understood to mean dismiss him – suggesting that he is a burden to the employer. Commented Apr 22, 2017 at 23:24

5 Answers 5


The phrase lighten one's load is not uncommon.

The Synonym Finder lists Lighten one's load, lighten the load, or ease the load as synonyms for disburden, unload, assist, aid, unburden, and help.


Perhaps, the word "relieve" meaning 'to take the place of someone and continue doing their job or duties' would suit better:

I'm on duty until 2 p.m. and then Peter is coming to relieve me.

A part-time bookkeeper will relieve you of the burden of chasing unpaid invoices and paying bills. (=A part-time bookkeeper will take this unpleasant task from you.)


Unburden: relieve (someone) of a burden.


The new person was hired to "offload some work" from other people.


I can see why you would say or think 'unload' on a person's tasks because it is very, very common to use the metaphor, "crushed". For example, my developer is just getting crushed right now with google i/o coming up and their side hustle (moonlighting job) as CTO of a startup.

Perhaps a better phrase - de-task - unburden and my favorite jargon... - reduce their 'bandwidth'

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    "Reduce their bandwidth" is a really odd (to me) choice to indicate lightening someone's load. If I say "I don't have the bandwidth to do that right now." it means I have too much work - if you reduce my bandwidth even further, that means to me that you're giving me even more work.
    – ColleenV
    Commented May 4, 2017 at 23:25

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