Encouraging overtime – A beneficial practice or not?

Overtime work has become a practice more and more usual nowadays with increasing competitiveness. Thus, the desire of employers to meet the demands of a broad market or the wish of reaching and even surpassing competitors might determine them to require employees to work overtime. Also, the desire to improve their income might encourage employees to accept overtime.

So, which are the consequences of this practice in the long term? What about in the short term? To what extent can we encourage overtime to bring prosperity of an organization? What are the negative effects that overtime may cause regarding productivity and motivation level among employees? Are there positive effects when talking about overtime? Last but not least, what are the limits that an employee should not exceed?

When multiple hours of work do not mean more productivity

Managers or team leaders who believe that twice the number of work hours equals double the productivity are mistaken. First, we must consider that those who perform this work are not robots, machines programmed to perform repeatable tasks on demand, but people. Therefore they might experience fatigue, exhaustion, and frustration. Moreover, their level of motivation in the workplace can significantly decrease.

Accordingly, studies regarding productivity in the workplace performed over time showed that employees have a higher productivity in the first part of the work day. So, since the second part of the day is one when employees tend to perform no longer the tasks as quickly as in the morning, this method is not a solution. Besides, overtime is better paid than normal working hours, which means a loss for the employer, who will pay more money for some hours during which the productivity is lower.

Employees are not motivated only by higher earnings

And since we brought up the money subject, it is good to mention that the additional revenue earned from work hours outside the normal activity could allure employees in the first phase. So they might get used to the idea that their income has increased, and then when the organization would no longer want him to do extra work, employees may become less motivated or even frustrated, perceiving this change as a reduction of their monthly earnings.

Last but not least, we must not forget that a high workload can have negative consequences on employees’ health. Thus, a program that exceeds 8 or 9 hours of work per day five days a week can cause mental and physical exhaustion among employees, which could trigger the need for longer sick leaves or vacations. Also, for the same reasons, employees would be looking for other jobs.

So if we could draw a conclusion from the above, it would be that overtime should not be encouraged or otherwise, should not become the norm among organizations and it should be used only in cases of extreme emergencies. Also, employees should be informed in advance about the most demanding periods, when they could be required to work overtime and to be justly rewarded for it.


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