As business owners, we are all guilty of asking employees, from time to time, to work additional hours.
Perhaps we are short staffed or the business is simply busier than expected for a few weeks.
We inevitably go to our star employees and ask them, "Hey Steve, can you do me a favour? I need you to do some extra hours in the next few weeks." Steve is a good employee and wants to help, so he agrees without fail. However, before we know it, 6 weeks has passed, and Steve is doing 60 hours a week and looking a little shattered.
So whats wrong with asking staff to work overtime on a regular basis?
But with many misinformed professionals heralding long work weeks as a sign of true company loyalty and as a way to increase productivity, it’s understandable that you could find it difficult to buy into the idea of a mere 40 hours a week being optimal. However, facts don’t lie, and the facts say that it’s best to stick to a 40 hour work week.
Let’s look at just a few reasons for why the work week should be kept short:
Here's what the IGA Research says: "Productivity drops immediately upon starting overtime and continues to drop until, at approximately eight 60-hour weeks, the total work done is the same as what would have been done in eight 40-hour weeks." This means that in reality, asking staff to work overtime is effectively useless. Fatigue sets in past a 40 hour week and productivity will drop impacting your bottom line.
We all know its dangerous to drive when tired because simple errors kick in through exhaustion. Asking employees to do excessive overtime has the same impact on the job. Not only can this be extremely dangerous in some work situations, these errors can add up to cost the business in terms of the bottom line.
Employees who are rostered on for excessive overtime will experience a decline in work morale. They will loose enjoyment for the job and simply go through the paces. As we all know low morale is a like a cancer that can spread through the business and have disastrous effects over time.
If your employees are customer facing, tired staff can be a disaster. As much as they try, it's impossible to have a bright and cheerful demeanour when you're sleep deprived and run down personally.
If overtime expectations go on too long, loyal employees will often start to feel disillusioned with their work-life balance and look elsewhere for employment. They will be receiving pressure from family and friends to find a job that has more reasonable exceptions and enables them to have a healthy and balanced life.
Extreme stress and exhaustion often leads to otherwise healthy people getting sick. This is a massive risk for businesses with a culture of extreme hours. Suddenly you will find business disruption due to employee sickness on top of having to pay out sick leave entitlements as the doctors certificates start rolling in.
Culture is KING and a business with an 'overtime culture' sends a dangerous message to employees that they are not seen as people that are cared about but rather simply resources to be exploited. Be careful.
There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but research and common sense indicate that for most individuals, working longer hours is simply not a good choice. Not only will it negatively effect employees’ personal lives, but it can (and usually does) have a terrible impact on your company’s performance as a whole.
So for the sake of your employees’ well-being and your company’s efficiency, it’s best to limit working hours. One of the best ways to do this is to invest in a smart cloud rostering solution like RosterElf which will give you perspective on workload and identify talent gaps early to avoid being short staffed.
Emergencies happen in business and a bit of over overtime here and there is ok. Just don't make it a habit or your business will suffer.
CEO/Founder @ RosterElf
Magically Simple Staff Rostering