4 Reasons Employees Work Overtime & How HR Can Help

February 18, 20203:10 pm31188 views
4 Reasons Employees Work Overtime & How HR Can Help
4 Reasons Employees Working Overtime & How HR Can Help

While overtime work can help fulfil market demand, it is often associated with burnout, stress, and other mental illness. Melanie Curtin survey showed that overtime can be a resource of bad productivity in workplace. People are only productive for 3 hours a day, the survey stated, as the hours drag on, it becomes less likely for individuals to fully function. 

For that very reason, it is important for employers to understand why employees often work overtime. Once you know the reasons, you can take necessary steps to cut the negative impact of overtime work, thus, creating work culture that is healthy for both employer and employees. Without further ado, here are 4 common reasons employees work long hours. 


The most common reason employees often working late hours is to meet manager’s expectation and finish the workload for the day. As written by Erin L Kelly on her book Overload, regular work hours might 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. 

To prevent this: HR can provide flexibility in the workplace. Flexibility does not only help employees enjoy their working hours, said Kelly, it also helps improve productivity. Yet, flexibility alone might not be enough when it comes to peak season, thus, HR is encouraged to recruit hourly worker to help meet work demand. 

Read also: Why You Should Let Your Team Feel The Pressure at Work

Mandatory overtime 

Mandatory overtime, also referred to as forced overtime, is when an employer requires employees to work more than their regularly scheduled 40-hour workweek without the approval from employees. This high proportion of forced overtime sometimes leads to poor morale and higher stress in employees as they do not willingly want to involve in this rule. 

To prevent the burnout from mandatory overtime: HR can create a better culture for employees, such as encourage napping time to help employees recharge. Company layouts and lighting should also be adjusted for making employees work better.  

Striver Syndrome 

Striver syndrome is a condition where employees want to look good in the eyes of supervisors, aka “I want to impress my boss” syndrome. The reason for doing this is because individuals are vying for a raise of promotion, and clocking long hours will help them look better than their co-workers. However, albeit it is good to see a very competitive person in your workforce, does it really benefit both employees and employer? 

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. For the employer, it means that company need to pay higher for medical coverage if employees fall sick which will both decrease company’s performance and revenue. 

To prevent this: HR can encourage manager and supervisors to recognise and applaud employee’s hard work but remind 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 together with managers and leaders should also focus on developing a solid team culture, where co-workers are recognised and valued based on a result-oriented environment, rather than hours spent at the office. 

Overtime Pay 

Another reason is to earn more money for expenses that an employee’s base salary does not cover. It might be difficult for employees to meet their living needs, especially in a highly competitive economy. Working parents, for example, need to work extra hours to get more money to send their children to a good school and to provide foods on the table. 

To prevent this: Employers can provide flexibility and revise working parents policy. Employers are also encouraged to give raises to support employees’ needs. According to Time Sheets review, employers can give raise to employees on an annual basis or quarterly basis. Employers are also encouraged to give raises when they feel as though the employee earned it, such as good performance, length of service, merit raise, or sort of living in the state, which can be random. Besides, going beyond the market wage is a good way to retain employees. 

Read also: How to Establish Salary Ranges for Your Company?

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