Overtime is just another part of working life. Every now and then, a company will end up behind schedule and will need its employees to work overtime to stay on track. Other times, overtime is used to attain even greater market goals after the initial goal is met. While overtime work can help fulfill market demand, it is often associated with burnout, stress, and other mental illness.
A survey conducted by Melanie Curtin of Inc.com found that overtime can be a source of bad productivity in the workplace. The survey also found that the maximum productivity of an individual usually caps out at just 3 hours a day. As the hours drag on, it becomes less likely for individuals to fully function. The remaining 5 hours are often riddles with unproductive and unmotivated work.
If 8 hours of work is already pushing the limits of the average worker’s productiveness, companies should take steps to cut the negative impact of overtime work. For that very reason, it is important for employers to understand why employees often work overtime. Once you know the reasons, you can then start to create a work culture that is healthy for both employer and employees.
The most common reason for employees working late into the night is to meet their manager’s expectations and finish the workload for the day. As written in the HR management book, “Overload” by Erin L Kelly, regular work hours may not be enough for employees to finish everything on their plate. Thus, they stay up late to finish them. Especially in a peak season like a new product launch or vast recruitment, overtime seems unavoidable.
HR can provide flexibility in the workplace to prevent issues like this. Flexibility in the workplace not only helps employees enjoy their working hours, it also helps improve productivity. Yet, flexibility alone might not be enough when it comes to peak season, thus, HR is encouraged to recruit freelancers or hourly part-timers to help meet work demand.
The dreaded mandatory overtime refers to when an employer requires employees to work more than their regularly scheduled working hours without approval from employees. A company with a high proportion of forced overtime will undoubtedly lead to poor morale and higher stress in employees as they do not willingly want to involve in this rule. Even if they are compensated for said mandatory overtime, morale and motivation is likely to still suffer.
While companies should try to avoid mandatory overtime as much as possible, those that have to implement it to meet goals should get HR to create a better culture for employees, such as encouraging naps to help workers recharge. Company layouts and lighting should also be adjusted for making employees work better.
Striver syndrome is a condition where employees want to look good in front of their managers. These individuals are often vying for a raise of promotion and will often prioritise clocking in long hours over personal health. While it is good to see a highly competitive employee who is willing to push the limits in your workforce; you will have to make sure they do not push themselves so far that they buckle from the burnout.
As mentioned earlier, working overtime, in the long run, will decrease employees’ productivity. Other than that, research emphasised that those who work more than 7 hours a day are 60 percent more likely to have heart problems, higher blood pressure, and suffer mental illness.
HR should encourage managers to applaud and recognise and employee’s hard work, but also reign in the over-zealous workers by reminding them that quality counts better than quantity. Always reminding employees that a productive, happy, and non-stressed employees are what make a workplace a better place to work will likely help cut the striver syndrome. HR should work together with managers to develop a culture where employees are recognised based on a results-oriented environment.
In today’s highly competitive economy, employees might be finding it difficult to meet their living needs. Working parents for example, will need a lot more money to feed a bigger family and to send their children to a good school. In certain countries, even saving the money to buy a small home or apartment can be a daunting task.
HR can work with managers to revise working parents policies at the workplace to ease the burden of those who have young children. While simply increasing everyone’s salary is not really an option, holding wage reviews more often to provide more opportunities for a raise can certainly help staff morale. Factors such as good performance, length of service, merit raise, or sort of living in the state can all be considered when discussing an employee’s salary.