When managing a team of hourly workers, asking staff to work additional hours is expected when things get busy. You may be short-staffed unexpectedly, so you have to ask a staff member to step up and pull some of the weight. 

Your employees may feel the pressure to say yes every time, and before you know it, you have employees who pull ten-hour shifts more than once throughout the week. 

It's common for employees to believe that they're showing their managers their loyalty and commitment to the company by putting in overtime. But there is evidence to suggest that more than 40 hours workweeks are harmful to a company and its employees. 

Here are a few reasons to keep employees to a workweek of no more than forty hours. 


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 they accomplish eight 40-hour weeks." 

Asking staff to work overtime is virtually useless. Fatigue sets beyond a 40-hour week, and productivity will drop, impacting your bottom line.


The more hours staff work, the more tired they become, leading to increased errors. These mistakes can be dangerous in transport, manufacturing, security and healthcare. 

Asking employees to do excessive overtime impacts a staff member's mental health and can seriously jeopardise their physical health depending on the job. 

Company Morale

Employees scheduled for excessive overtime will experience a decline in work morale and will go through the minimal steps needed. Low employee morale can spread through the company and have a cause-and-effect reaction to a feeling of being underappreciated and overworked. 

Customer Service

If your employees are customer-facing, tired staff can be a disaster. As much as they try, having a bright and cheerful demeanour is impossible when you're sleep-deprived and run down.


If overtime expectations go on too long, loyal employees will often feel disillusioned with their work-life balance and look elsewhere for employment. In addition, they will be pressured by family and friends to find a job with more reasonable exceptions, enabling them to have a healthy and balanced life.


Extreme stress and exhaustion can often lead to otherwise healthy people getting sick. Having people commonly sick is a massive risk for businesses with a culture of extreme hours. 

Suddenly you'll find business disruption due to employee sickness on top of paying out sick leave entitlements as the doctor's certificates start rolling in.


Creating a company culture that encourages overtime and expects employees to be okay with it is toxic. Giving your employees the right work-life balance and only asking for favours when necessary will lead to better company culture. 

There are exceptions to every rule, of course, but research and common sense indicate that working longer hours is not a good idea for most individuals. Not only will it negatively affect employees' personal lives, but it can also impact your company's performance.

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 an intelligent cloud rostering solution like RosterElf, giving you perspective on each week's workload and identifying talent gaps early to avoid being short-staffed.

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